Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 6
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Jacques Faure of France, and James Warlick of the United States of America) and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, traveled to Baku and Yerevan February 4-5, OSCE reported on Feb. 6.
The Co-Chairs will continue consultations with the sides in the weeks ahead, in preparation for high level meetings.
In Baku, the co-chairs met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and in Yerevan they met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsian. In both capitals, they had consultations with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, according to the statement.
With the Presidents, the Co-Chairs discussed the outcome of the Foreign Ministers' recent meeting in Paris, and stressed the need for further progress on the substance of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
They emphasized the need to continue negotiations at the highest level, as was agreed in Vienna, according to the statement.
In their talks, the Co-Chairs reiterated their deep concern over the recent escalation on the Line of Contact and the border, and called on the sides to exercise restraint in their actions and rhetoric.
The sides stated their intention to strengthen observance of the ceasefire and avoid further escalation, particularly in light of the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, according to the statement.
The situation remains tense on the contact line. Earlier the head of the press service of Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, Lieutenant-Colonel Vagif Dergahli told Trend that most ceasefire violations are observed in the directions of Fizuli, Agdam, Terter, Goranboy, Khojavend and Jabrayil regions.
Dergahli emphasized that the number of truce violations and intensity of shootings have recently increased. Thus, the ceasefire was violated over 2000 times from January 21 up until now. In all cases, the shooting was countered by return fire.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs expressed their deep concern over continued violence in the region, according to the organization's statement on the results of the Paris meeting between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
The co-chairs stressed that recent incidents undermine negotiations and diminish the prospects for peace.
In addition, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing on Jan.24 that the use of force will not resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"We have seen the reports and regret any loss of life anywhere, but certainly here as well. Our position remains that the use of force will not resolve this conflict. We call on all parties to refrain from the use or threat of force," Harf said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.