International mediators pledged to step up their efforts to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as they began a new round of regional shuttle diplomacy on Monday.
In a joint statement issued in Baku, the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group said they will discuss with Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders “additional actions necessary to strengthen the cease-fire” and “promote a spirit of compromise by all parties.”
They also strongly condemned last week’s truce violations in northeastern Nagorno-Karabakh that left at least four Azerbaijani soldiers dead and highlighted the persisting danger of renewed war for the disputed territory.
News reports from Baku said the three co-chairs plan to monitor on Wednesday the ceasefire regime in that area together with OSCE field officers. According to the APA news agency, they will then cross into Karabakh through the heavily militarized “line of contact.”
The mediators said they will remain “particularly active” in the months leading up to the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana scheduled for December. They said will again visit the conflict zone by mid-October in order to “observe the humanitarian situation” in Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Karabakh. Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international bodies will also take part in the “field assessment mission,” said their statement.
The statement added: “During this period of intense activity, the Co-Chairs urge all parties to respect strictly the cease-fire and to exercise restraint on the ground, to make every effort to foster the spirit of compromise necessary to make progress, to abstain from inflammatory public statements, and to demonstrate the convincing political will to engage in serious dialogue.”
There was no word on chances of the conflicting parties ironing out their remaining disagreements over the “basic principles” of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the three mediating powers. Armenian and Azerbaijani officials continue to make differing public interpretations of the proposed peace framework.