OSCE Chairperson-in-Office concerned over increase in number of ceasefire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 21 /Trend/
"The responsibility for resolving the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh lies with the parties," OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said in an interview with NEWS.am.
"I am concerned about the recent increase in the number of cease-fire violations. At the same time, I welcome the recent exchange of prisoners of war, agreement on which was reached in Astrakhan. I know that there are no easy solutions and the progress is slow. We will support greater engagement by the OSCE Minsk Group to re-energize the political negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh," he said.
Azublais stressed Lithuania's clear priority is keeping avenues of dialogue open to ensure that there is no escalation.
"Our approach will be to encourage openness and transparency to build trust and confidence, and reduce tensions. Progress however small makes a difference to people's lives," he noted.
According to him, Lithuanian Special Representative for Protracted Conflicts Giedrius Cekuolis will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan in February. He will open a dialogue with the parties and prepare Azubalis's visit later in the spring.
As Chair of the OSCE we will focus on resolving existing conflicts and achieving concrete progress in addressing transnational threats and safeguarding fundamental freedoms," he stressed.
"I will work closely with the Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, to encourage all OSCE participating States to fulfill the media freedom commitments they have undertaken. In June we will host a conference in Vilnius on safety of journalists. Being a journalist unfortunately remains dangerous in several parts of the OSCE region - we must change this," the diplomat stressed.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 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 the 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.