The American, Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group held meetings with ethnic Armenian leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh as they arrived in capital Stepanakert on Monday on the second leg of their three-stop regional tour aimed at promoting a peaceful solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the disputed region.
According to official sources, issues related to the conflict settlement and recent developments were discussed during the meeting between Karabakh President Bako Sahakian and the visiting mediators, including co-chairs James Warlick, of the United States, Igor Popov, of Russia, and Pierre Andrieu, of France, as well as personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.
Sahakian reportedly accused Azerbaijan of continuing to maintain its “unconstructive stance” and violating the ceasefire regime as well as continuing to pursue its “anti-Armenian policy”.
According to his press service, the Karabakh leader highlighted the necessity of elaborating mechanisms of maintaining the ceasefire regime and revealing violations, which he said were among “pivotal components” of the peace process.
On Tuesday, the mediators are expected in Yerevan for meetings with the leadership of Armenia.
Late last week the mediating troika already held meetings with Azerbaijani leadership in Baku, including with President Ilham Aliyev.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted American co-chair Warlick as saying on October 22 that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev remained committed to the peace process and was ready for a fresh meeting with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian.
He added that the date and venue of the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit would be discussed during meetings in Baku and Yerevan.
While no agreement on the next Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting is reached yet, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs reportedly said they hoped that the next meeting of the top Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats will take place as soon as December 8 or 9 in Hamburg, Germany, on the sidelines of a regular meeting of OSCE member states’ foreign ministers.
The current regional tour of the mediators comes amid an exchange of accusations by Armenians and Azerbaijanis about an increased rate and intensity of ceasefire violations along the line of contact in the conflict zone.
Last week Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian forces reported the first attempted incursion by Azerbaijani commandos since the four-day hostilities in April, which were the deadliest escalation of violence in the region in more than two decades.
In its daily reports Karabakh’s military also regularly mention the use by Azerbaijani armed forces of large-caliber machine-guns and long-range sniper rifles at some sections of the line of contact.