Yerevan, Baku Pledge Olympics Truce

The Olympic flag on display in Sochi, Russia

YEREVAN—Armenia and Azerbaijan have promised to minimize ceasefire violations on their border and around Nagorno-Karabakh during the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs said on Thursday, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reports.

“The sides stated their intention to strengthen observance of the ceasefire and avoid further escalation, particularly in light of the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi,” the U.S., Russian, and French mediators of the OSCE Minsk Group said in a joint statement issued after their latest visit to Baku and Yerevan.

James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair, also separately announced the “good news” on his Twitter page. “The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan recommitted to respecting the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire especially during Olympics,” he wrote.

Responding to James Warlick’s remarks, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian’s spokesman Arman Saghatelyan wrote on Twitter that the Armenian President has always advocated respect for the ceasefire.

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group — Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, Jacques Faure of France, and James Warlick of the United States, along with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk — traveled to Baku and Yerevan from February 4 to 5.

In Yerevan, the Co-Chairs were met with protests by youth groups of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, demanding that the mediators end their false parity regarding Baku’s recent violations of the cease fire and condemn Azerbaijan.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs stressed in their statement the need for further progress “on the substance of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Armenpress reports.

In Yerevan and Baku, the Co-Chairs met with Presidents Sarkisian and Aliyev. They also held consultations with each country’s minister of foreign affairs and defense. With the presidents, the Co-Chairs discussed the outcome of the foreign ministers’ recent meeting in Paris, and stressed the need for continuing negotiations at the highest level.

The Co-Chairs expressed their deep concern over the recent escalation at the border, and called on the sides to exercise restraint in their actions and rhetoric.

The mediators gave no dates for upcoming summits, but the statement concluded, “The Co-Chairs will continue consultations with the sides in the weeks ahead, in preparation of high level meetings.”

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