OSCE Minsk Group countries committed to achieving the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 30 /Trend E.Tariverdiyeva/
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) and Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk (Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office) traveled November 28-30 to Yerevan and Baku, says the statement of OSCE published on the website of the organization.
The Co-Chairs were accompanied by Ambassador Jacques Faure, who will succeed Ambassador Fassier as the French Co-Chair of the Minsk Group. In Yerevan the Co-Chairs met with President Serzh Sargsian, Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian, and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan; in Baku they met with President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and Defense Minister Safar Abiyev. In all these meetings, the Co-Chairs reaffirmed the strong commitment of their countries to assisting the sides in achieving a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Noting recent reports of incidents along the Line of Contact, the Co-Chairs stressed again to the Presidents the importance of respecting the 1994 ceasefire agreement, said in press-release.
"They reiterated that such incidents demonstrate the need to implement the proposed mechanism to investigate incidents along the front-lines, on which the Presidents have agreed in principle. The Co-Chairs also discussed additional measures for enhancing confidence through people-to-people exchanges and efforts to preserve places of worship, cultural sites, and cemeteries", - said in the statement.
On November 29, the Co-Chairs crossed the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan by foot, and met on each side with local officials to discuss the situation in the border region. On November 30, the Co-Chairs met with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijanis, and underscored that a peaceful settlement must include the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence.
Looking ahead to the December OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Vilnius, the Co-Chairs urged the sides to use this opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to seeking a peaceful settlement and moving beyond the unacceptable status quo, said in the statement.
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.