The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should deploy observers and gunfire-locator systems around Nagorno-Karabakh in order to minimize ceasefire violations there, a senior French government official said on Monday.
Visiting Yerevan, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir said this is essential for preventing a repeat of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces that broke out along the Karabakh “line of contact” on April 2.
The hostilities, which Russia helped to stop on April 5, left the conflicting parties on the brink of a full-scale war.
“Our position is as follows: the ceasefire must be observed and there need to be mechanisms that would allow for that,” Desir said after talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
“By mechanisms I mean [permanent OSCE] observers and electronic surveillance systems,” he told reporters. “There needs to be human and electronic monitoring that would allow us to verify compliance with the ceasefire regime every second.”
“We would be able to have objective information about every instance of ceasefire violation,” he said.
Over 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in October called for these and other safeguards against truce violations in a joint letter sent to James Warlick, Washington’s chief Karabakh negotiator, in October. Warlick reportedly backed them.
Warlick and fellow diplomats from Russia and France co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs have long been urging the conflicting parties to withdraw their snipers and agree to a mechanism for international investigations of armed incidents. These measures are backed by Armenia but rejected by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said last month that they would only reinforce the status quo favoring the Armenian side.
Desir, who will hold talks with Aliyev in Baku on Tuesday, reaffirmed France’s view that the Karabakh conflict cannot be ended militarily. He said the parties should seek instead a peaceful settlement based on the mediating powers’ Basic Principles.
The framework peace accord proposed by them envisages Armenian withdrawal from virtually all districts around Karabakh in return for a future referendum on the disputed territory’s status.