Armenia has again accused Azerbaijan of the recent escalation of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, condemning Baku’s “targeting civilian areas, including with the use of heavy weaponry.”
Addressing the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during its special meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian drew the attention of the delegates to the “unprecedented high number of casualties” among all parties to the conflict in 2014, the year that marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ceasefire agreement that put an end to hostilities in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
In his speech disseminated by the press office of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nalbandian dwelled on the most recent efforts of the OSCE mediators to defuse tensions and strengthen the ceasefire in the conflict zone.
After their latest visit to the region in February the United States, Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the main international format advancing a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, had “agreed to consider proposals aimed at strengthening the ceasefire in the conflict zone.” They did not elaborate on the proposals.
In his speech at the OSCE Permanent Council’s special meeting Nalbandian claimed that “immediately after the regional visit of the Co-Chairs Azerbaijan rejected the proposals and further escalated the situation displaying its flagrant disrespect to the proposals of the Co-Chairs.”
“The implementation of the agreement on the mechanism to investigate the incidents on the Line of Contact together with other proposals on confidence and security building measures made by the Co-Chairs could be an important tool for prevention of such incidents and creation of the environment conducive for the peace talks. However, Azerbaijan continuously rejects numerous proposals of the Co-Chairs on the consolidation of the ceasefire, withdrawal of snipers and on other confidence building measures,” Nalbandian said.
The top Armenian diplomat also accused Azerbaijan of abusing cooperation with the OSCE. “Azerbaijan has failed the cooperation with the OSCE in all dimensions and instead of using it as a floor for the genuine discussions dares to exploit the Organization for the purposes of pushing its narrow political agenda,” he said.
“Azerbaijani provocations on the Line of Contact with Nagorno-Karabakh and at the border with Armenia have also been matched with Azerbaijan’s consistent bellicose, warmongering rhetoric and anti-Armenian hate speech,” Nalbandian said. “Baku continues to oppose the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and is doing its utmost to undermine the peace talks… Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, has stated many times that it is ready to continue negotiations, based on the proposals of the Co-Chair countries.”
In his speech at the special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, the Armenian minister also addressed other issues of Armenian and international concern, including Turkish-Armenian relations, the destruction of an Armenian church and other monuments by ISIS in the territories of Syria and Iraq, prospects of Armenia’s cooperation with the European Union after the country’s recent accession to the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, etc..