Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb.18
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
The ceasefire agreement signed in May 1994 and the political will of the parties are the main factors determining the situation on the border and on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk said in his interview to News.am.
Under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group procedures were worked out to strengthen the ceasefire in February 1995, Kasprzyk said.
"Moreover, with the consent and support of the parties, I and my colleagues make frequent visits to the border and the contact line. The purpose of these visits is to contribute to strengthening the trust between the parties, and such measures often helped to reduce tensions," Kasprzyk said.
Kasprzyk believes that the withdrawal of snipers would save lives and significantly reduced the level of tension. Agreeing to withdraw snipers, the parties would also contribute to the formation of mutual trust and thus would create a more favorable atmosphere for fruitful negotiations, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Personal Representative said.
The visits of OSCE mission to the border and the contact line can not replace the mechanism for monitoring the compliance with the ceasefire, like those that can be seen in many other parts of the world, Kasprzyk said.
"However, local commanders and others continue to argue that our visits provide a valuable opportunity for the involved parties to resolve issues of mutual concern, and, if necessary, to reduce the risk of escalation. Similiar visits also allow us to inform acting OSCE Chairman and Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group of the situation, how it is seen by the people on the sites, " he said.
Kasprzyk called his duty to work with parties to develop measures that will help the parties to reach a lasting political settlement.
"Regarding the monitoring activities of the OSCE Minsk Group on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the main challenges are to ensure the safety of all participants, including security guarantees, as well as providing resources needed for implementation of such measures, " he said.
"For these reasons, unannounced visits to the border or contact line are not possible," Kasprzyk said.
"In a statement, agreed in Astrakhan on October 2010 at a meeting initiated by the Russian President, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to exchange prisoners of war and return the bodies of the victims with the assistance of the OSCE Minsk Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross, " he recalled.
"I continue to work closely with all parties involved, promoting return of war prisoners and bodies of dead persons as well as return of detained civilians," Kasprzyk 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.
Translated by L.Z., S.I.
Edited by C.N.