Minsk Group Co Chairmen Meet with Karabakh Officials

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group led by co-chairmen Yuri Yukalov of Russia–Lynn Pasco of the United States and George Vogier of France arrived in Stepanakert on Thursday.

The delegation was received by Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian. They discussed ways to lead the negotiations out of the current impasse.

The same topic was discussed in a meeting with Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian who once again confirmed its adherence to the peaceful settlement of the conflict through negotiations under the guidance of the OSCE. Ghoukassian stressed the necessity of applying all of the Minsk Group’s potential and specifying issues of mutual interest. According to him–that will allow the resumption of negotiations and lead to a mutually acceptable solution to the Karabakh problem.

The Minsk Group co-chairmen emphasized the importance of a constructive approach on the part of all parties involved.

The meeting was attended by Parliament Speaker Oleg Yesayan–Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian–Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Atajanian and other officials.

Earlier–on Tuesday–the OSCE dispatched its inspection team to the region to monitor the front line between the armed forces of Karabakh and Azerbaijan–after the two sides confirmed their cease-fire commitmen’s. This was the first time that the OSCE sent its inspectors to the region since February 17 when a mission of inspectors monitoring the front line was fired at by Azeris. One Karabakh officer was wounded in that incident.

This time one group of OSCE inspectors–including OSCE special envoy Andrei Kasprczik and his aides Volger Jacobi and Bjorn Lauritsen monitored the strip near the village of Kuropatkino–in the Martuni region–on the Karabakh side–while the other group monitored the front line on the Azeri side. The monitoring was held as scheduled and no incidents were reported.

Kaspriczik met with President Ghoukassian and Foreign Minister Melkoumian later in the evening. The envoy reported the results of the inspection and thanked Karabakh authorities for their assistance. The sides also addressed the Karabakh settlement in light of the then upcoming visit of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to Karabakh.

On Wednesday–the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen met with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.

During the meeting–Oskanian presented Armenia’s approach to the issue of restarting Karabakh peace talks. The minister said that Nagorno-Karabakh should be recognized a full negotiating party and that there should not be any preliminary conditions for resuming peace talks.

Oskanian stressed the need for changes and flexibility before a new round of talks begins in order to break the continuing stalemate in the settlement process. He underlined that Armenia is ready to make every effort to get the negotiating process back on track.

The sides agreed to continue discussion after the OSCE delegation visited Stepanakert.

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