International mediators urged Armenia and Azerbaijan late Friday to respect the ceasefire in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and accept a framework peace accord put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group.
In a joint statement, the group’s French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs said the conflicting parties should “restore confidence along the Line of Contact and desist from any further confrontations, escalation of violence or warmongering rhetoric.”
The statement was prompted by this week’s deadly skirmishes in a section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline northeast of Karabakh. The parties made conflicting casualty claims and blamed each other for the worst ceasefire violation in years. The Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair, Matthew Bryza, discussed the incident during a visit to Baku and Yerevan this week.
The Armenian side said Azerbaijani forces tried to capitalize on the post-election unrest in Yerevan by attacking Karabakh Armenian army positions. Official Baku strongly denied this, saying that Armenia’s embattled leaders themselves provoked the fighting to “distract” the domestic public and the international community from their bloody crackdown on the Armenian opposition.
“As of today, the ceasefire has been restored and the situation on the Line of Contact is calm,” the mediating troika said. “The Co-Chairs call upon both Sides to strictly abide by the provisions of the Arrangement on strengthening the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict of February 4, 1995.
“The Co-Chairs reiterate that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The outbreak of hostilities would destabilize the entire region, with calamitous consequences for all involved.”
The co-chairs further called Baku and Yerevan to “redouble their efforts to endorse the Basic Principles for the peaceful resolution of the conflict presented to the sides on the margins of the Madrid OSCE Ministerial in November 2007, and to begin as soon as possible the process of drafting a peace agreement on this basis.”
The framework peace deal calls for a gradual resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would indefinitely delay agreement on the disputed territory’s status, the main bone of contention. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and his outgoing Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, are understood to have already agreed on its key points.