Azerbaijan, Baku, July 3 / Trend E.Ostapenko /
The armed incidents and fatalities on the contact line of the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops must push both sides to a speedy resolution of the conflict, supposes Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution Andrzej Kasprzyk.
"The families and friends of the victims can reasonably expect that the senseless waste of life will galvanize all involved to make the very most of the opportunities presented over the next few weeks to move forward," Kasprzyk said in an interview with Trend.
According to the information of Azerbaijani and Armenian Defense Ministries, an armed incident took place in the northern part of contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on 18 - 19, June at night. Both sides suffered losses.
In the framework of regular visits to the region the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group together with Kasprzyk will be visiting the region from 1-5 July in order to support the sides in preparation for a meeting of foreign ministers in Almaty later in July.
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.
Kasprzyk thinks that the incident of 18-19 June was the most serious cease-fire violation for more than two years. Its impact has been, in the first instance, on the lives of those who have been killed or wounded and of their family members and friends. Kasprzyk has no doubt that all involved in the negotiation process, including the OSCE Minsk Group, the presidents of both Armenia and Azerbaijan and their ministers, understand this.
Peace negotiations has been hold by the OSCE Minsk Group since the sides of the conflict signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. Minsk Group is co-chaired by Russia, France, and the US.
According to Kasprzyk, the ceasefire is saved only by the political will of the parties.
"Undoubtedly, the very presence of large numbers of armed service personnel facing each other year after year, often in very harsh environments, across short - in some cases very short - distances is the single biggest contributing factor to cease-fire violations", he said.
Kasprzyk said local commanders on both sides have highlighted a number of other, specific factors which contribute to such incidents. These include shooting from small arms or light weapons, especially by snipers; and any other activity that may be interpreted by the other side as an attempt to improve its positions or as a threat to the security of that side.
Kasprzyk said his own views are shaped by the monitoring exercises conducted by him and other OSCE representatives with the support and assistance of the relevant military authorities and local commanders.
These monitoring exercises, according to him, are not intended as investigations; this would require the consent of and co-operation between the sides, as well as a wider mandate and more resources for my office. Nor are they supposed be a peacekeeping measure.
"Nonetheless, they provide a vital 'snapshot', an effective and consistent way of assessing the situation on the ground, and a rare opportunity to lower tensions," Kasprzyk added.
The monitoring are conducted about twice a month on the front line, either on the border or the line of contact, to obtain first-hand information and subsequently report it to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the Minsk Group Co-chairs and participating States, with recommendations for any appropriate action.
Following the recent meeting at the G8 Summit in Toronto, the presidents of the co-chair countries have certainly sent an unambiguous message of encouragement to Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan to take the next step and complete the work on the Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin, Kasprzyk said.
The Minsk Groups proposals officially submitted to the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the Madrid OSCE summit in November 2007 is base of nagotiations. These proposals are also known as the "basic principles".
At a meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan in January in Sochi, the OSCE Minsk Group presented the parties an updated version of the Madrid document, which is the basis for today's talks. Baku, adopting the Madrid principles, has not yet received information from the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen on Yerevan's position on those principles.
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