The OSCE Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau on Friday arrived in Armenia, where he met with Armenia’s prime minister, foreign minister, president and received a briefing of the situation in Karabakh by Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender.
Rau met privately with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, who told reporters later on Friday that he had briefed the visiting diplomat, who is also Poland’s foreign minister, on the recent incursion by Azerbaijani forces into Armenia villages in Artsakh’s Askeran region, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is stationed.
The two then held a expanded meeting attended by advisers and other foreign ministry staff.
Rau also met with President Vahan Khachatryan.
The visiting diplomat also discussed the volatile situation in Artsakh with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, telling him that the OSCE will continue its efforts to contribute to the exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to ensure stability and peace in the South Caucasus.
The two also stressed the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, noting the importance of protecting the fundamental rights of the people of Artsakh.
While in Yerevan, Rau had an opportunity to get a first-hand briefing about the situation in Karabakh from Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan.
Stepanyan told Rau about the current humanitarian situation in Artsakh, widespread violations of the rights of the people of Artsakh because of the anti-Armenian policy pursued by Azerbaijan, pointing out the problems caused by the deliberate disruption of Artsakh’s gas supply and Azerbaijan’s military aggression in recent days.
The human rights defenders detailed the coordinated, systematic, and consistent ethnic-cleansing policy conducted by Azerbaijan aimed at the deprivation of the homeland of the people of Artsakh, as well as the destruction and vandalism of Armenian cultural heritage in the occupied territories, malicious trials of Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives, other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Stepanyan expressed regret over the lack of a clear and targeted response by the OSCE to the violations of human rights and fundamental principles of international law, emphasizing that in the current situation the international community shall act not only as a mediator but also as a guarantor of the protection of the rights of the people of Artsakh.
Stepanyan added that the recent developments demonstrated that the effective protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of the people of Artsakh demands the soonest and most comprehensive settlement of the conflict and a determination of the status of Artsakh based on the respect of the free will of its people and right to self-determination.