Amid criticisms and warnings from Baku and Ankara, an OSCE needs assessment team on Sunday visited Armenia’s Syunik Province where the group was briefed on the destruction Azerbaijan caused when its forces attack Armenia’s sovereign territory last month.
The team, which arrived in Armenia on Friday, met with the Syunik governor who provided details about the large-scale offensive launched by Azerbaijan on September 13 and enumerated the losses—both human and structural—suffered by the residents there.
The team also listed a border village and gained first-hand knowledge of living conditions, while Azerbaijani forces continue to remain on Armenia’s sovereign territory.
The OSCE decided to dispatch a needs assessment mission after the Armenian government appealed to the organization. The team is expected to remain in Armenia until Thursday.
The purpose of the visit is to assess the situation in certain border areas, on the basis of the OSCE’s mandate and expertise within its comprehensive concept of security. The technical team is comprised of international experts and representatives of the OSCE Secretariat and will visit areas along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and hold consultations with the relevant national and local stakeholders as well as international partners on the ground.
This mission coincides with a European Union monitoring mission, which arrived in Armenia last week and is expected to begin its activities on Tuesday.
The OSCE’s decision to send a mission to Armenia has angered member-states Azerbaijan and Turkey, which responded with terse condemnations and warnings.
“Instead of working toward establishing peace and provide input on confidence-building measures in the region, they [the OSCE] is refusing to cooperate with Azerbaijan and is opting to engage in this one-sided ‘needs assessment mission, which already has pre-determined goals and results. That’s going to have the opposite effect,” Azerbaijan’s representative to the OSCE said in a statement on Friday.
Accusing the OSCE of “endangering the spirit of cooperation,” Azerbaijan’s representative to the organization accused the organization of “grossly violating and ignoring” its own mandate.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry, in a statement last week, said the none of the OSCE’s committees or bodies had discussed the mission to Armenia. Baku said that the “needs assessment team” did not have any mandate by the OSCE and none of its reports or suggestions can be adopted as an official OSCE document.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized the OSCE for sending a “needs assessment team” to Armenia saying that by sending the mission the organization contradicted its own mandate.
“The attempt to impose one’s own position and the formation of the status quo is unacceptable,” Cavusoglu said, according to the Anadolou news agency, accusing the OSCE of failing to settle the Karabakh conflict.
“Over the years, they just dragged the process out. And today, when sending a mission or observers, they are trying to ignore Azerbaijan’s position. The desire to support Armenia is obvious,” Cavusoglu added.
He also criticized the European Union, which has deployed an observer mission to Armenia.
“The EU does not fulfill the terms of its agreements,” Cavusoglu said.