Co-Chairs Present Grim View of Conflict Zone

Minsk Group co-chairmen

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, during a visit last week to Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan, unveiled the results of a fact finding/monitoring mission they headed in October to the leaders of the three countries. Upon the completion of last week’s trip the co-chairs announced they would publicize their finding after briefing the OSCE Minsk Group in Vienna.

On Thursday, the Co-chairmen issued a statement, that included the executive summary of their fact finding mission, which we present below:

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) were in Vienna on March 23-24, where they briefed the Minsk Group and Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut on their recent and upcoming activities as mediators of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Co-Chairs also presented the “Report of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ Field Assessment Mission to the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan Surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Executive Summary [see below]. The harsh reality of the situation in these territories has reinforced the view of the Co-Chairs that the status quo is unacceptable, and that only a peaceful, negotiated settlement can bring the prospect of a better, more certain future to the people who used to live in the territories and those who live there now. The Co-Chairs intend this report to be forward-looking — offering all parties a vision of how these areas could contribute to peace and prosperity, rather than being a source of tension and conflict.
The Co-Chairs will travel again to the region in the near future to continue discussions on the Basic Principles, building on the positive momentum of the March 5 Sochi summit. They also will develop with their interlocutors concrete measures to fulfill the commitments made at Sochi regarding investigations – with the participation of all sides – of ceasefire violations.

Noting the continuing importance of restraint by the sides both on the ground and in public statements, the Co-Chairs consider unacceptable any use or threat of force, including against civil aircraft. In that respect, they strongly condemn the senseless cycle of killings and retaliations along the front lines. They reiterated their long-standing position that all sides should prepare their populations for peace, not war.

Below is the text of the Executive Summary:

Executive Summary of the “Report of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ Field Assessment Mission to the Occupied Territories Surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh”

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs conducted a Field Assessment Mission to the seven occupied territories of Azerbaijan surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) from October 7-12, 2010, to assess the overall situation there, including humanitarian and other aspects. The Co-Chairs were joined by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in Office and his team, which provided logistical support, and by two experts from the UNHCR and one member of the 2005 OSCE Fact-Finding Mission. This was the first mission by the international community to the territories since 2005, and the first visit by UN personnel in 18 years.

In traveling more than 1,000 kilometers throughout the territories, the Co-Chairs saw stark evidence of the disastrous consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the failure to reach a peaceful settlement. Towns and villages that existed before the conflict are abandoned and almost entirely in ruins. While no reliable figures exist, the overall population is roughly estimated as 14,000 persons, living in small settlements and in the towns of Lachin and Kelbajar. The Co-Chairs assess that there has been no significant growth in the population since 2005. The settlers, for the most part ethnic Armenians who were relocated to the territories from elsewhere in Azerbaijan, live in precarious conditions, with poor infrastructure, little economic activity, and limited access to public services. Many lack identity documents. For administrative purposes, the seven territories, the former NK Oblast, and other areas have been incorporated into eight new districts.

The harsh reality of the situation in the territories has reinforced the view of the Co Chairs that the status quo is unacceptable, and that only a peaceful, negotiated settlement can bring the prospect of a better, more certain future to the people who used to live in the territories and those who live there now. The Co-Chairs urge the leaders of all the parties to avoid any activities in the territories and other disputed areas that would prejudice a final settlement or change the character of these areas. They also recommend that measures be taken to preserve cemeteries and places of worship in the territories and to clarify the status of settlers who lack identity documents. The Co Chairs intend to undertake further missions to other areas affected by the NK conflict, and to include in such missions experts from relevant international agencies that would be involved in implementing a peace settlement.


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  1. Vacheh said:

    When OSCE talks about preserving of “cemeteries” and “places of worship”, they better includ:

    (a) The preservation of cemeteries of old Jolfa in Nakhijevan where my ancestors are buried.

    (b) The Armenian churches in Turkey which have been converted to mosques, stables, animal barns, or have been destroyed by dynamites. Those include The Great Cathedral of Ani, Saint Alakelots of Kars, Saint Karabed of Mush (Msho Sultan Soorp Karabed), and many many other churches.

    • manooshag said:

      Vacheh, I agree. Too, these are all ancient sites of the Armenian nation which was the first nation to recognize Christianity as their national religion in 301AD (Rome followed in 307AD).
      Civilized nations protect and maintain such ancient relics – all signs of what their generations before have left behind for those of us who follow and know of them… But not the muslim Turks… still determined and in pursuit to eliminate any and all signs of Armenians – from the Armenian’s own lands and culture of nearly 4,000 years – as if the Armenians never existed – Turkish style. Manooshag

      • Vacheh said:

        Dear Manooshag,

        Thank you for your comments. I read the articles from you and from some other fellow brothers and sisters. What I read from you is what I have in my mind. I am glad that there is a generation of us who cares about our nation’s future. God Bless you and all who think like you. My heart bleeds every time that I see how our ancient cathedral Ani is desecrated and insulted by Turks. Please see this web site.

  2. Arthur I said:

    The identity of the settlers is of no consequence to the peace process. It is an internal Armenian matter. The OSCE should not meddle in that issue. Next after establishing the identity, these meddlers (who cannot bring themselves to utter even mild words of disapproval for constant Azeri aggression) will try to relocate the settlers back to their original areas. They will not consider that some of the settlers were in dire economic conditions because of the ongoing illegal blockade and had to find whatever’s shelter they could outside of RA.

    There is war going on, and these slick bureaucrats want to establish the identity of a few people? There is something more sinister behind their expressed motivation!

  3. Narek said:

    Who the $%&! is the OSCE Minsk group to dictate territorial decisions of “occupied Azerbaijani territories”? Its time Armenia put their foot down and declare an ultimatum: If Azerbaijan continues their cease-fire violations (which has been violated over 200 times this year alone) Armenia will be forced to take defensive action. There is no such thing as peace when foreign governments try to dictate in favor of the enemy….please open your eyes my fellow Armenians and stop appeasing to foreign decisions!

  4. manooshag said:

    Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
    By strangers with a calm judicial pen
    And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
    As the lines of ink along the map turn red.
    Marya Mannes

  5. Saro said:

    Since officials are non stop busy to look for ways to stay on power and so called opposition has nothing to do but how to polarize the society, therefore most important national issues remain unsolved- the resource of nation being (ab)used for personal interests ! This is hard to understand, why NKR authorities do allow foreign journalist (mostly related to foreign inelegancy services or paid by Azerbaijani war propaganda department) to visit frontier lines, to produce detailed anti Armenian films or collect information. Beside this if a TV team wasn’t allow to film in Azerbaijan (part of plan), it doesn’t mean the same TV team would be “pro Armenian”. This is high time that NKR as well official in Armenian change there information policy! This is ridiculous when NKR army officials and solders and NKR people being interviewed by so called “(Christian) journalist from Europe” , who are in no way interested in historical justice. NKR should protect the population being abused by so called western free media in payroll of Turkish-Azerbaijani propaganda. Where were so called western journalist as Azerbaijani was busy destroying Stepanakert and every single Armenian settlement in Karbakh in 90´s?? The most best example is the last visit of a dubious Germany TV journalist team (“ZDF” – second TV program) to NKR , where almost every single spoken word in 45 min. long documentary was skilfully translated in a way suitable to Azerbaijani war propaganda department! The same German TV group wasn’t allowed to enter Azerbaijan a couple days before , in order to confuse the Armenian/NKR side…!