Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, the current chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, on Tuesday urged the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to withdraw snipers from the “line of contact” and jointly investigate ceasefire violations there.
Gilmore made the appeal in Yerevan after talks with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian. The Karabakh dispute and, in particular, last week’s deadly fighting in the conflict zone were high on their agenda.
“After the latest reports of serious escalation and armed incidents the sides need to take positive steps,” Gilmore told a joint news conference with Nalbandian. He expressed hope that the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers will make progress towards agreeing on a mechanism for joint investigation of truce violations when they meet in Paris next week.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have been pushing for the adoption of such a mechanism amid growing international concerns about the outbreak of a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
“Armenia has been and is for the creation of the mechanisms of investigation and, unlike Azerbaijan, when we agree on something, we do not backtrack on it the following day,” said Nalbandian.
“In the meantime, we have to ensure that sniper activity stops, that there isn’t any retaliatory activity,” Gilmore said. He said the warring armies deployed around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border should withdraw snipers from their frontline positions.
The idea of sniper withdrawal has also been advanced by the U.S., Russian and French mediators in recent years. The Armenian side supports the idea, while Baku has been opposed to it so far.