YEREVAN—The OSCE Minks Group co-chairmen condemned the attacks on civilian targets during last week’s savage attacks by Azerbaijan against all fronts of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, during which soldiers and civilians, among them a 12-year-old boy and an elderly couple who were brutally killed and their bodies mutilated.
The Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, Igor Popov (Russia), Pierre Andrieu (France) and James Warlick (the US), as well as the personal representative of chairman in office Andrzej Kasprzyk, held a press conference on Saturday following meetings with Armenian officials in Yerevan.
Warlick said that they have seen the images and videos emanating from the battlefield, which depict the brutality of human rights violations. After condemning these incidents he said that the co-chairmen have met with the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and delegated them to ascertain all the data. He also noted that they have raised this issue in the capitals, and that it is in the center of their attention.
“We’re deeply distressed by the reports of human right violations, with the photos and videos we’ve seen. We’ve asked our partners at the ICRC to investigate what happened exactly. We’re deeply troubled by any human right violation,” said Warlick.
Popov, the Russian co-chairman, explained that their main mission is to ensure the prevention of reoccurrence of military actions, and said that they have no mandate to investigate who started the recent hostilities.
Popov said one of the most important issues today is the return of the bodies of the killed soldiers, and the ICRC, as well as Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk’s team are engaged in the search works.
Referring to the issue on the negotiating table and the so called “Lavrov initiatives,” Popov said “it has been mentioned on many occasions that there is a new document on the table. There are proposal of the Co-Chairs, which have been discussed over the past few years. They are based on three principles and six elements,” Popov said.
“These principles include non-use of force, the right of peoples to self-determination and territorial integrity. As for the elements, the two most important ones are related to the determination of the status of Nagorno Karabakh and the return of territories. Other elements are related to return of refugees, determination of the width of the corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno Karabakh and peacekeeping mission,” the Russian Co-Chair said.
Popov added, however, that the issue of peacekeepers should be discussed at the final stage, after the conclusion of a peace deal.
As for the prospects for Nagorno Karabakh to return to the negotiating table, Popov said “we’ve said on many occasions that Karabakh should return to talks at a certain stage. “Conclusion of a framework agreement preceding the preparation of a peace deal could be a starting point,” he added.
The French Co-Chair Pierre Andrieu reiterated that they are not authorized to investigate which side was responsible for the resumption of military actions.
“What’s important for us is to ensure that the agreement on ceasefire reached in Moscow is maintained as long as possible, and to resume the political negotiations,” he added.
As for Turkey’s suuport for Azerbain and the possibility of that country’s exclusion from the Minsk Group, Warlick said “no changes in the Minsk Group are expected.” “As you know we met in Vienna for the first time in years and adopted a strong statement. Turkey joined this statement and endorsed it. We’re looking forward to working with all Minsk Group members, including Turkey,” he concluded.