International mediators promoting a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have commended Armenia and Azerbaijan for “implementing constructive measures in good faith”, and expressed support for the two countries’ leaders’ readiness to continue their dialogue as they issued a press statement after completing their five-day regional tour on Friday.
The statement published on the official website of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) said that the Minsk Group’s co-chairs Andrew Schofer, of the United States, Igor Popov, of Russia, and Stephane Visconti, of France, together with the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk visited the region from 29 October to 2 November.
“The main purpose of the visit was to discuss the results of the conversation between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan [acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and President Ilham Aliyev] on the margins of the CIS summit in Dushanbe [Tajikistan] in September, outline next steps in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, and review the overall evolution of the situation on the ground,” the statement said.
Besides meeting with political and military leaders in Yerevan and Baku, the international mediators also met with “the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and visited the districts of Kelbajar and Agdam.”
“On October 31, the Co-Chairs participated in an OSCE ceasefire monitoring mission along the Line of Contact near Agdam. In Baku, the Co-Chairs met with representatives of Azerbaijani communities affected by the conflict. While in the region, the Co-Chairs discussed the situation with representatives from the ICRC and UNHCR.
“In their meetings with the Co-Chairs, the leaders in both capitals confirmed that the level of violence has fallen significantly since they reaffirmed in Dushanbe their commitment to reduce tensions. In their consultations, the Co-Chairs received additional details about the implementation of the Dushanbe understanding, including with regard to the establishment of direct communication links. The Co-Chairs welcomed these developments, commended the sides for implementing constructive measures in good faith, and expressed support for the leaders’ readiness to continue their dialogue.”
According to the statement, the Co-Chairs stressed the importance of “sustaining a climate of trust for intensive negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
It said that the foreign ministers [of Armenia and Azerbaijan] agreed to meet again before the end of the year.
“The Co-Chairs will soon travel to Vienna to brief the OSCE Permanent Council and the members of the Minsk Group,” the statement concluded.
Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, triggering a war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
A cease-fire was called in 1994, but decades of internationally mediated negotiations with the involvement of the OSCE’s Minsk Group have not resulted in a settlement yet.