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Mediators Tell Armenia, Azerbaijan To ‘Immediately’ Halt Fighting


Russia - Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnataskanian (R) meets with OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in Moscow, October 13, 2020

A team of French, Russian and U.S. mediators urged Armenia and Azerbaijan on Tuesday to immediately stop hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in line with a ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia.

The diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group warned that continued fighting in the Karabakh conflict zone would be fraught with “catastrophic consequences for the region.”

“The Co-Chairs note with alarm the continuing violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” they said in a joint statement. “The Co-Chairs call on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to take immediate steps to execute in full the obligations of the sides according to the October 10 Moscow statement, in order to prevent catastrophic consequences for the region.”

“The Co-Chairs reiterate that civilian casualties are unacceptable under any circumstances. The Co-Chairs call on the sides to implement the humanitarian ceasefire immediately to allow the return of remains, prisoners of war, and detainees, and appeal to the sides to agree urgently upon a ceasefire verification mechanism,” added the statement.

The mediators issued the statement shortly after meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian in Moscow.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mnatsakanian told them that Azerbaijani forces are “continuing large-scale hostilities” along the Karabakh “line of contact” in breach of the Moscow agreement. He too stressed the importance of putting in place a “verification mechanism.”

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said earlier in the day that its troops are adhering to the ceasefire. The Armenian military insisted, however, that they launched fresh offensive operations early in the morning.

The ceasefire accord was the result of 10-hour talks between Mnatsakanian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov mediated by their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. In a joint statement, the three ministers also said that Yerevan and Baku are “launching substantive talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to reach a peace deal as soon as possible.”

The co-chairs said on Tuesday that they are now “working with the sides on the substantive issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh political settlement process.” They did not give details.

Meeting with Yerevan-based foreign ambassadors on Monday, Pashinian said that the Armenian side is committed to fully implementing the Moscow agreement.

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