Prague format creates a good basis for further movement forward special envoy of OSCE chairman-in-office

Prague format creates a good basis for further movement forward  special envoy of OSCE chairman-in-office

Trends interview with special envoy of the OSCE chairman-in-office on Nagorno-Karabakh, Andrzej Kasprzyk

Question: How do you characterize the state in the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline?

Answer: The cease fire at front lines generally holds. However tension sometimes increases for a variety of reasons. We regret that there are occasionally casualties as a result of such tension. In our view even one serviceman killed is one too many. One has to remember that there is a political will on all sides to preserve the cease fire, which is also a condition for conducting the negotiations on the settlement of the conflict which are now in a delicate stage. .

In such conditions it is unacceptable when a young serviceman is wounded or killed, especially deliberately by a sniper.

Question: How often was the ceasefire regime broken in 2006? What measures should the sides take prevent the armistice breaches?

Answer: We cannot quote exact figures on cease-fire violations we rely on figures provided by the Ministries of Defence. Generally, only when there is a casualty (or deliberate aiming), or if the shooting is protracted and lasts for at least 20 minutes it is considered as a cease fire violation.

We expect the sides to display maximum restraint on the front lines. If there is a more serious violation, we also expect the sides to make use of the hotline between them at senior level. A lot depends also on the will of the local commanders to maintain the cease fire and how they keep the discipline among their troops.

Question: Are there any preconditions for the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in 2006?

Answer: The negotiations are continuing apace and have become quite intensive in the last period, with many meetings, including at the level of the Presidents. The Co-chairs have been very active which has been applauded by the Presidents.

In the year 2006 there is a good window of opportunity for the resolution of the conflict, taking into consideration that there are no elections this year neither in Armenia nor Azerbaijan.

Question: How do you estimate the talks on resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Answer: There is an effort from all sides to bring the positions of the parties closer. The issues are extremely complicated and painful; nevertheless it seems that what has been accomplished so far during the rounds of the Prague format and at other meetings creates a good basis for further movement forward. It is a question also of the political decisions that have to be taken by the Presidents on the basis of their nations best interest. One has to remember that for both nations there will be substantial benefits from peace which cannot be ignored.

Question: Is it worth to hold monitoring in the frontline if they cause doubts?

Answer: It has been stated on different occasions and at different levels by the parties that Monitorings have a stabilizing effect on the situation in case of a flare-up of tensions.

On occasions we have been requested by one or the other party to conduct a Monitoring at a specific location precisely to stabilize the situation. If anybodys life was saved thanks to it I would already consider it an achievement.

Monitorings also serve as an early warning to all to the parties, the Minsk Group and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in case there is a threat of deterioration of the situation along the front lines. It is also an important tool as a confidence building measure in the military sphere between the parties once my teams are permitted to enter a specific territory it means there is nothing hidden.

The information received from the parties during the Monitoring is passed on with our comments as to the seriousness of the incident to the OSCE Chairmanship and the Minsk Group. Our mandate does not foresee investigations which would also require cooperation between the parties in facilitating evidence to the investigating teams.

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