The monitoring of ceasefire in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone regularly conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been suspended over the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released from Tbilisi, Georgia, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, cited closed borders and travel restrictions as the reason for the move.
“The ongoing situation following the spread of COVID-19 has led to the closure of international borders throughout the region, travel restrictions for international and local staff, as well as restrictions put in place to avoid face-to-face contact to reduce the risk of infection,” Kasprzyk said in the statement published on the OSCE’s official website.
“In view of the above, and following consultations with the sides, monitoring exercises will be suspended until these restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, I continue to be in contact with the relevant military authorities,” the ambassador added.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh following a three-year war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.
Despite the 1994 ceasefire, soldiers on both sides continue to be killed in sporadic border clashes.
Diplomatic efforts on settling the conflict led by the United States, Russia and France as part of the OSCE Minsk Group have brought little progress in the past decades.
Armenia declared a 30-day national emergency over COVID-19 on March 16, restricting international travel and putting other limitations in place.
So far authorities in Yerevan have confirmed 122 coronavirus cases. Azerbaijan has reported 34 confirmed coronavirus cases, with one fatality.