Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of failing to live up to the agreements on confidence-building measures reached by the two South Caucasus nations following brief deadly hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in April.
Meeting with the visiting American, Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group in Yerevan on Tuesday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian claimed that Baku “hampers the establishment of necessary conditions for advancing the negotiations” by failing to realize the agreements reached at the level of the two countries’ presidents during internationally mediated talks in Vienna and St. Petersburg in May and June, respectively.
Among the safeguards against renewed hostilities Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev then reportedly agreed to the introduction of mechanisms for investigating truce violations as well as the expansion of the number of OSCE field representatives periodically monitoring the ceasefire regime along the Karabakh line of contact.
The importance of the implementation of the confidence-building measures was also highlighted during the separate meetings of ambassadors James Warlick (USA), Igor Popov (Russia) and Pierre Andrieu (France), the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group, and Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, in Yerevan with Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian and newly appointed Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian later on Tuesday.
The international mediators were in Yerevan on the third-leg of their regional tour that also included stops in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital of Stepanakert.
While in Baku, American Co-Chair Warlick, in particular, said that President Aliyev had expressed his readiness for a new meeting with his Armenian counterpart. It was not immediately clear from the official information released by the Armenian president’s office whether Sarkisian was also ready to meet with Aliyev any time soon.
The Minsk Group mediators’ latest tour of the region came 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.
During a press conference in Yerevan earlier on Tuesday, Ambassador Warlick said, however, that generally the mediators are pleased that the situation along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has remained relatively calm since the clashes last spring.