International mediators on Wednesday expressed serious concern at the downing of an Armenian helicopter by Azerbaijani forces and urged the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to prevent another upsurge in fighting.
“We strongly appeal to the sides to avoid steps that would escalate tension along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The region cannot afford another round of violence like we witnessed this summer,” the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group said in a joint statement.
“Today's events remind us of the volatility of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the urgency to intensify efforts to find a lasting settlement,” they said.
The mediators avoided blaming any of the sides for the “drastic incident” that occurred along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” east of Karabakh. They said instead that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan should honor their declared commitments to a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh dispute.
“We also encourage them to adopt confidence-building measures now that would increase transparency along the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and reduce the likelihood of events like today's incident,” added the statement.
The mediating troika has suggested in the past that the parties withdraw snipers from the frontlines and agree joint mechanisms for investigating ceasefire violations. The idea has been backed by the Armenian side but essentially rejected by Azerbaijan.