The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to meet later this year in an attempt to revive the search for Nagorno-Karabakh peace, international mediators said on Thursday following their latest tour of the region.
“The Presidents confirmed their commitment to hold a summit under the auspices of the Co-Chairs before the end of the year to discuss key elements of a settlement and other issues,” the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group said in a joint statement issued in Baku.
The statement cited no possible dates and venues for the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit. Speaking in Yerevan on Monday, James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair, suggested that it could take place shortly after a constitutional referendum in Armenia slated for December 6.
Warlick also said the mediators hope that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will defuse increased tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of contact” around Karabakh. The conflicting parties are increasingly using mortars and other weapons in ceasefire violations reported from there.
“We stressed to the Presidents the dangers of violence along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The use of heavy weapons, such as mortars and rocket launchers, is unacceptable and presents a serious danger to the civilian population,” read the joint statement by Warlick, Russia’s Igor Popov and France’s Pierre Andrieu.
The mediators witnessed a truce violation when they crossed from Karabakh into Azerbaijani-controlled territory on foot on Tuesday. “Immediately after a routine crossing of the Line of Contact by the Co-Chairs, repeated gunfire from an undetermined location forced OSCE monitors to take cover,” they said. “The sides have made an obligation to guarantee the safety of monitoring personnel. This incident represents a deliberate effort to undermine progress towards a settlement.”
“It also underscores the need for the OSCE to have the ability to investigate violations of the ceasefire,” added the mediators.
Armenia and Karabakh have repeatedly backed the idea of such investigations. Azerbaijan has essentially opposed it until now.