OSCE chair: Long-standing status quo in Karabakh untenable
Baku, Azerbaijan, May 16
The longer the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict lasts, the more intensively the conflict sides arm themselves and the higher is the risk of new escalation, including a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, RIA Novosti quoted Germany's Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier as saying May 16.
He made the remarks in Vienna before a meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The fierce fighting on the line of contact six weeks ago showed that the long-standing status quo is untenable in the long term, said Steinmeier.
He pointed out that the OSCE plays an important role in the conflict's settlement.
France, Russia and the US have been throughout many years trying as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to consolidate the ceasefire agreement and resume the political process, said Steinmeier, adding that as the OSCE chair, Germany supports that.
"We believe that establishing and strengthening ceasefire, agreeing on strengthening trust and starting the negotiation process should be the goal," he said. "It will take some time."
On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers. The armed clashes resulted in deaths and injuries among the Azerbaijani population. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements.
Military operations were stopped on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies on Apr. 5 at 12:00 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours) with the consent of the sides, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry earlier said. Ignoring the agreement, the Armenian side again started violating the ceasefire.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.