The parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have tentatively agreed to jointly investigate ceasefire violations along their main “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, international mediators announced late on Monday.
The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group said this was a major theme of their latest negotiations held in Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku.
“The Co-Chairs offered several proposals for measures to enhance confidence in different fields,” they said in a joint statement. “The sides agreed in principle on the draft mechanism to investigate incidents along the front lines that the Co-Chairs proposed in April, and which Presidents [Ilham] Aliyev, [Serzh] Sargsian, and [Dmitry] Medvedev agreed to pursue in their March joint statement in Sochi.”
The mediators gave no details of that mechanism. Armenian and Azerbaijani officials, for their part, have made no statements to that effect so far.
Deadly violations of the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone appear to have become more frequent in recent years, fuelling more fears of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war for Karabakh.
The international community has repeatedly urged the conflicting parties to continue to honor the truce. In particular, the Minsk Group co-chairs have previously urged them to withdraw their snipers from the frontlines. The idea is backed by the Armenian side but opposed by Baku.
Ending their latest round of regional shuttle diplomacy, the co-chairs emphasized the fact that they crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” east of Karabakh by foot on Saturday. “This crossing highlighted again that the Line is not a permanent barrier between neighboring peoples, and demonstrated that military coordination is possible when all the sides are willing,” read their statement.
The statement reported no progress in the mediators’ efforts to bring the parties closer to agreeing on the basic principles of resolving the Karabakh dispute. It said the troika will again tour the conflict zone next month to hold more discussions on confidence-building measures and “determine next steps to pave the way for future meetings between the sides.”