A team of U.S., Russian and French mediators met with Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leaders on Wednesday after inspecting a section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline that saw deadly fighting last week.
The three diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group arrived in Karabakh on the second leg of their latest tour of the conflict zone. They crossed into the disputed territory’s northern Martakert district from Azerbaijan proper through the heavily militarized “line of contact” separating the warring sides. The envoys attended a monitoring of the ceasefire regime that was conducted there by OSCE field officers.
“The monitoring took place according to plan,” the Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) said in a statement. “No ceasefire violations were registered.”
At least four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in that area in two separate incidents reported last week. Each side blamed the other for the truce violations.
The mediators condemned the incidents and called for “additional actions necessary to strengthen the ceasefire” as they began their fresh round of regional shuttle diplomacy in Baku on Monday. They made no public statements after meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday.
The mediating troika was just as reticent after holding talks with NKR President Bako Sahakian the next day. “I can not share our impressions with you because … we are only in the middle of our mission,” Bernard Fassier, the Minsk Group’s French co-chair, told journalists in Stepanakert.
Fassier said he and Robert Bradtke of the United States and Russia’s Igor Popov will issue a joint communiqué after wrapping up their tour in Yerevan. They are scheduled to meet with President Serzh Sarkisian there on Thursday.
According to Sahakian’s office, the Karabakh leader discussed with the visiting diplomats “a broad range of issues” relating to the peace process. “Both sides pointed out that the military option of resolving the conflict is absolutely unacceptable,” the office said in a statement.
In their last statement released on Monday, the co-chairs pledged to step up their efforts to broker a solution to the Karabakh conflict. They said they will remain “particularly active” in the months leading up to the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana scheduled for December.