Speaking to reporters while attending a budget discussion session in the Armenian parliament on Thursday, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said that work in this direction is currently underway.
Armenia and Azerbaijan three times reached ceasefire agreements since the current armed conflict broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27. But the October 10, 17 and 26 ceasefires brokered by Russia, France and the United States, respectively, did not hold, with each side accusing the other of violating the deals reached with the mediation of the three co-chair countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group.
Mnatsakanian said today that verification mechanisms were important in this view even if no ceasefire has been achieved yet.
“The introduction of a verification system will make it possible to carry out this function more effectively. In this sense, the work is being pursued today as well. And we need to achieve that,” he told reporters.
Mnatsakanian described ceasefire verification mechanisms as a priority issue today. “Under the direction of Turkey, Azerbaijan has violated the reached agreements three times, but this does not mean that the work on establishing a ceasefire will not continue. It does not follow from this that we will stop working on establishing a ceasefire, and we will be working not alone, but also with the co-chairs,” he said.
Mnatsakanian said that the basis of the current work is the four points expressed in the joint statement of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia that was published after nearly 11-hour-long talks in Moscow on October 10.
In that joint statement, the three ministers announced an imminent ceasefire which eventually did not hold “for the humanitarian purposes of exchanging prisoners of war and other captives and bodies of the dead.”
The statement said that while “concrete parameters of the ceasefire regime will be agreed upon additionally,” Baku and Yerevan were “embarking on substantive negotiations with the aim of rapidly achieving a peaceful settlement.” It also made it clear that the talks will be held “on the basis of the basic principles of settlement.”
It was an apparent reference to a framework peace accord that was first drafted by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in 2007 and has been repeatedly modified since then. The conflicting parties have for years disagreed on some key elements of the proposed deal.
Amid stalled negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, fighting continues unabated in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Armenia-backed ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh claimed to have repulsed attacks by Azerbaijani armed forces in several directions of the frontline, including in the east, on Thursday. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan gave a different account of the developments along the frontlines, claiming that its armed forces have been making more gains on the ground.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto ethnic Armenian leader Arayik Harutiunian on Thursday reportedly visited Shushi (Shusha), a strategic town sitting on a mountaintop and overlooking the region’s capital Stepanakert.
In a Facebook post Harutiunian said that in Shushi he met with defenders of the town “to discuss the strategy of the struggle against the numerous forces of the enemy.”
He said “all possible efforts are being made to keep the stronghold town impregnable.”