Azerbaijan remains opposed to the idea of international investigations of intensifying ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, according to Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the Minsk Group have long been urging the parties to work out a mechanism for such investigations that would be conducted by representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
They reiterated the proposal in late September following the most recent upsurge in fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. “Armenia has agreed to discuss the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same,” the mediators said after hosting talks in New York between Mammadyarov and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Tbilisi on Thursday, Mammadyarov made clear that Baku continues to reject the idea. He said Armenian withdrawal from “occupied Azerbaijani territories” would be a much better way to end bloodshed.
“One must not reinforce the status quo,” Mammadyarov went on. “One must not reinforce the situation in which soldiers from the two sides sit and look at each other from a 30-meter distance. One must remove the [Armenian] troops.”
“If you want a mechanism for investigations, then you should pull out your troops and [in that case] we will set up not one but several mechanisms. We will even set up a tribunal that will determine who shoots at whom. But as thing stand now, the presence of Armenian troops is the biggest threat to security,” he said.
Peace proposals made by the mediating powers over the past decade do envisage the restoration of Azerbaijani control over virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. But that would have to be followed by a future referendum in which Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would determine the territory’s status.