International mediators brokering a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict urged the parties to respect their ceasefire agreement at the end of a three-day tour of the region on Wednesday.
The visit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairmen to Yerevan and Baku, including a border crossing and a ceasefire observation mission, came amid heightened tensions in the disputed region where the loss of life continues on both sides, with each blaming the other for the deaths.
The American, Russian and French representatives of the Minsk Group, Robert Bradtke, Igor Popov and Bernard Fassier, released a statement from Baku on November 30 summarizing their mission and reaffirming “the strong commitment of their countries to assisting the sides in achieving a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
In view of recent reports of incidents along the “Line of Contact”, the co-chairs said they had stressed again to the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan the importance of respecting the 1994 ceasefire agreement. They reiterated that “such incidents demonstrate the need to implement the proposed mechanism to investigate incidents along the front-lines, on which the presidents have agreed in principle.” The co-chairs said they had also discussed “additional measures for enhancing confidence through people-to-people exchanges and efforts to preserve places of worship, cultural sites, and cemeteries.”
After crossing the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan by foot and meeting on each side with local officials to discuss the situation in the border region the co-chairs also met with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijanis, and “underscored that a peaceful settlement must include the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence.”
“Looking ahead to the December OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Vilnius, the Co-Chairs urged the sides to use this opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to seeking a peaceful settlement and moving beyond the unacceptable status quo,” the statement said.
During their latest visit to the region the mediators were accompanied by Ambassador Jacques Faure, who will succeed Ambassador Fassier as the French co-chair of the Minsk Group.