Azeri Attacks Loom Over Karabakh Talks

The Minsk Group co-chairmen meet with President Sarkisian

YEREVAN—Despite efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group mediators to downplay deadly attacks by Azeri forces against border towns in Karabakh and Armenia, Azerbaijan’s policy of aggression loomed over talks held in Yerevan on Wednesday.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen Igor Popov of Russia, Jacque Faure of France and James Warlick of the US were joined by Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office in meetings with Armenian officials including the president foreign minister.

This comes less that two weeks after the Armenian and Azeri foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov met in Paris. Those talks, however, were overshadowed by aggressive Azeri incursions and sniper fire, which left two soldiers dead and a 16-year-old girl wounded in the Tavush district of Armenia.

The mediators were in Baku on Tuesday meeting with Azeri officials, who, once again, rejected the calls for the immediate withdrawal of snipers.

In an announcement after the Paris meeting, the co-chairmen expressed concern over the resurgence of violence on the border and issued what has become a typical announcement laced with false party saying that border incidents “diminish the prospects for peace.”

The co-chairmen were greeted at the foreign ministry building by protesters taking part in a demonstration organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Nigol Aghbalian Student Organization and the ARF Youth Organization. The protesters were demanding that the co-chairmen abandon the fake objectivity condemn Azerbaijan for its policy of aggression.

The demonstrators contended that the co-chairmen’s posturing only encourages Azerbaijan to continue its military threats and advance the incursions, which are destabilizing the security of the region.

The co-chairmen, who were hoping to follow-up on the Paris talks and schedule a fresh meeting between Armenian and Azeri presidents, instead emerged from the talks in Yerevan with no concrete plans.

Russia’s Popov told reporters that it was to soon to discuss another presidential summit.

“In order for the two presidents to meet, we need to complement the package of proposals with adequate and substantial provisions. We are working on that right now,” Popov said without elaborating.

“I don’t know when the next meeting of the presidents will be,” said the US’s Warlick. “We need to work toward it. We want to make sure it’s a productive one and it’s up to the presidents to decide.”

“It’s not easy to find the way forward, but I do think that there is a sincere effort underway,” he said while speaking to organizational representatives earlier in the day. “But it needs to be underpinned by Track Two [diplomacy,] by people-to-people [contacts.]”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry’s statement on the talks focused on Nalbandian’s reported complaints about Azerbaijan’s continued provocations. However, Nalbandian also reiterated that Armenia agreed with the co-chairmen who called for a joint Armenian-Azeri investigation into the cease-fire violations.

In May, the tenuous cease-fire agreement will turn 20. A quick glance at its effectiveness will show that Azerbaijan’s continuous violations are truly impeding the peace process.


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