BAKU (Combined Sources)–International mediators on Monday issued a statement deploring the growing wave of Azeri military incursions across the Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijan line of contact, the OSCE Press Office reported.
In a joint statement issued in Baku, the Russia, French and American co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group “strongly condemned” any violation of the 1994 ceasefire agreement between Karabakh and Azerbaijan and, in particular, “incursions across the Line of Contact.”
The statement went on to deplore the “useless loss of life” and tacitly warned that the use of force to resolve the conflict “would only lead to suffering, devastation, and a legacy of conflict and hostility that would last for generations.”
The statement came two days after a deadly Azeri incursion into northeastern Karabakh when, according to the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, about a dozen Azerbaijani commandos attacked one of its outposts early in the morning with the apparent aim of capturing an Armenian soldier.
“In response to the most recent incidents along the Line of Contact, [the Co-Chairs] also strongly condemn any violation of the cease-fire, in particular incursions across the Line of Contact,
The statement also condemned a similar incident last week, when Azeri units breached the cease-fire agreement in an attempt to overrun Karabakh positions in the same area.
The same section of the frontline was also the scene of another serious skirmish when Azeri forces launched an attack killing four Armenian soldiers on June 18.
“During this period of intense activity, the Co-Chairs urge all parties to respect strictly the cease-fire and to exercise restraint on the ground,” the Minsk Group co-chairs said in the statement. They also called on the conflicting parties to “demonstrate the convincing political will to engage in serious dialogue” and “abstain from inflammatory public statements.”
The co-chairs also pledged to intensify their efforts to secure a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, adding that they would embark on a new round of shuttle diplomacy between Armenia, Karabakh and Azebaijan in the coming days.
“The Co-Chairs will travel to Baku, Yerevan, and Nagorno-Karabakh [from] September 6-10 to discuss additional actions necessary to strengthen the cease-fire, to promote a spirit of compromise by all parties, and to finalize modalities for further action,” the statement said. “During the third full week of September, the Co-Chairs will travel to Washington, D.C. and then to New York to work with the sides on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.”
Meanwhile, the Azeri Press Agency reported Monday that the three co-chairs and a team of OSCE field officers will monitor on Wednesday the ceasefire regime in the violated area along the contact line.
The statement said the co-chairs would return to the region in mid-October to conduct a “field assessment mission” of the humanitarian situation in the liberated Armenian territories surrounding Karabakh. But it did not mention whether the conflicting parties would hammer out their remaining differences over the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the Minsk Group.
“A team of high-level advisors and experts, including representatives from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and others, are expected to accompany the Co-Chairs on their mission, which will be the first international mission in these territories since the OSCE fact finding mission in early 2005,” the statement said.
The Co-Chairs will then brief the OSCE Minsk Group in Vienna on their findings and then “present their annual activity report to the OSCE Permanent Council” in preparation of the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana scheduled for December.
These efforts, however, will only be successful if “if all sides to the conflict demonstrate a genuine interest in achieving progress,” according to The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Kazakhk Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, who released a statement on Monday echoing the mediators’ concern and condemnation.
“I support today’s statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs calling on the parties to the conflict to exercise restraint, and to strictly observe the ceasefire and refrain from inflammatory public statements,” he said.
The statement also added that “any violation of the ceasefire would destabilize” the Minsk Group negotiations, “limiting opportunities to enhance constructive dialogue” between the sides. In this regard,
The European Union on Monday also chimed in to express its concern over Azerbaijan’s repeated incursions, News.am reported.
“The European Union is concerned with the frequent incidents recently on the cease-fire line, the EU’s Special Envoy to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, told ANS television during a visit to Baku. “It is necessary to concentrate on peace negotiations,”