Co-Chairs Urge Armenia, Azerbaijan to Finalize ‘Basic Principles’

The Co-Chairs during their meeting with President Sarkisian

BAKU, STEPANAKERT, LJUBLJANA, Slovenia—After completing their visit to Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minks Group issued an announcement urging Armenia and Azerbaijan to “finalize and endorse the Basic Principles and move to the drafting of a peace agreement.”

The Co-Chairs, Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the US and Igor Popov of Russia, also detailed their visit to the “Line of Contact” between the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan and expressed concern “that the planned opening of an airport in Nagorno-Karabakh could lead to further increased tensions.”

On the airport issue, the Co-Chairs “cautioned that the operation of flights to and from this airport could not be used to support any claim of a change in the current status of Nagorno-Karabakh under international law.”

On Thursday, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian convened a meeting at the Stepanakert airport with Karabakh’s Civil Aviation Department head, Dmitry Atbashyan, airport director Arthur Karapetyan and other responsible personnel, reported the presidential press service.

Sahakian underscored the priority in the opening of the airport should be to maintain the qualitative standards in accordance to international norms. Moving forward, he also gave concrete instructions to corresponding bodies for the realization of the goals.

“The Co-Chairs will continue to work with the parties to create as soon as possible a transparent and objective investigation process, with the goal of enhancing confidence, decreasing the risk of miscalculation, and saving lives,” said the statement.

The Co-Chairs urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to work together in achieving the goals set forth for the peace process, and, once again, did not condemn Azerbaijan for its continued threats against the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

President Serzh Sarkisian, while visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia touched on Azerbaijan’s demonstrated lack of cooperation.

“Unfortunately, in our region the situation is somewhat different. Evidently, for some countries advancement toward Eurointegration doesn’t necessarily signify a peaceful, prosperous, free and secure development. One of our immediate neighbors has misapprehensions regarding the European way, perceiving the European realm exclusively as a convenient market for selling oil and gas,” said Sarkisian during a joint press conference with his Slovenian counterpart, Danilo Turk.

“It is preposterous when our neighbor, which has adopted the European way, threatens to destroy Armenian civil aviation aircrafts, conducts belligerent propaganda on a daily basis and is making threats to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh issues by war,” added Sarkisian.

“Another neighbor of ours, Turkey, which also aspires to become part of Europe, will not open its borders with Armenia despite its international obligations. One may wonder if our neighbors are aware that free movement is a pivot of the European system of values,” explained Sarkisian.

Below is the complete text of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ announcement:

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) traveled April 11-14 to Yerevan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Baku. Joined by Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office (PRCiO), the Co-Chairs met separately with Armenian President Serge Sargsian, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh. In their meetings, the Co-Chairs discussed next steps for reaching agreement on the Basic Principles. It is the strong view of the Co-Chairs that the time has arrived to finalize and endorse the Basic Principles and move to the drafting of a peace agreement.

On April 13, the Co-Chairs crossed the Line of Contact (LOC) by foot, before continuing to Baku. As with their crossing of the LOC in September 2010, this was intended to demonstrate the importance of maintaining and strengthening the 1994 ceasefire and that the LOC should not become a permanent barrier to contacts among neighboring peoples, as well as to reaffirm the Co-Chairs’ need to visit any areas affected by the conflict. In conjunction with the crossing of the LOC, the Co-Chairs also visited part of the region southwest of the city of Terter. In addition, the Co-Chairs visited the village of Orta Karvend, accompanying the PRCiO in monitoring the area where the reported March 8 incident occurred.

Building on the March 5 joint statement made in Sochi by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Russian Federation, the Co-Chairs also presented to the sides a draft mechanism for investigation of incidents along the front lines with the participation of all sides. The Co-Chairs will continue to work with the parties to create as soon as possible a transparent and objective investigation process, with the goal of enhancing confidence, decreasing the risk of miscalculation, and saving lives.

The Co-Chairs expressed their concern that the planned opening of an airport in Nagorno-Karabakh could lead to further increased tensions. They cautioned that the operation of flights to and from this airport could not be used to support any claim of a change in the current status of Nagorno-Karabakh under international law. The Co-Chairs urged the sides to reach an understanding in keeping with international conventions and agreements, as well as current practice between Armenia and Azerbaijan for flights over their territory. The Co-Chairs welcomed assurances from the sides that they will reject any threat or attack against civil aircraft, pursue the matter through diplomatic steps, and refrain from politicizing the issue.

The Co-Chairs will travel to Washington in late April for consultations with senior United States government officials, and to discuss the status of progress towards a peace settlement.”

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