The Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that Azerbaijani forces opened fire towards officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe while they monitored the ceasefire regime along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan on Thursday.
The ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, said that the incident occurred near Chinari, a border village in Armenia’s northern Tavush province.
The OSCE officials travelled to that area on a regular monitoring mission. Several other OSCE observers were due to assess the situation at that section of the heavily militarized frontier from the Azerbaijani side.
“The Azerbaijani side fired at the monitoring team near the village of Chinari,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The monitoring team was unable to carry out its mission for a fairly long time.”
“Azerbaijani armed forces opened fire during OSCE monitoring on the state border with Armenia,” Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, wrote on his Twitter page.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied the Armenian claims as “disinformation.” It said the OSCE monitors did not witness any truce violations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Thursday.
The OSCE and, in particular, its special observer mission tasked with monitoring ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone issued no statements on the reported incident as of late afternoon.
According to Hovannisian, the longtime chief of the mission, Andrzej Kasprzyk, was among the OSCE field observers who allegedly came under fire near Chinari.
Kasprzyk’s team regularly visits various sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of contact” around Karabakh to assess the conflicting parties’ compliance with the ceasefire regime. The Armenian military claims that the OSCE observers are frequently barred from approaching the Karabakh frontline from the Azerbaijani side.
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijani agreed to the expansion of Kasprzyk’s small team when they met in Vienna in May 2016 one month after the worst fighting around Karabakh in over two decades. International mediators had long pressed for this and other safeguards against truce violations there.
The Azerbaijani mission to the OSCE headquarters in Vienna stated in March this year that Baku will not allow the OSCE to deploy monitors along the Karabakh “line of contact.” “In the absence of withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied territories, such a deployment would lead only to further consolidation of the status quo and prolongation of the conflict,” it said.