The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group expressed concern on Thursday over fresh fighting that broke out at some portions of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border earlier this week.
In a joint statement, they urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “de-escalate the situation immediately,” avoid “provocative rhetoric and actions” and fully comply with the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the war in Karabakh in November.
“The Co-Chairs reiterate the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining core substantive issues of the conflict and urge the parties to return to negotiations under the auspices of the Co-Chairs as soon as possible,” added the statement. “They reiterate their proposal to organize direct bilateral consultations under their auspices, in order for the sides to review and agree jointly upon a structured agenda, reflecting their priorities, without preconditions.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry hailed the statement. “The statement of the Co-Chairs once again demonstrates that the key to regional peace and security is a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” it said.
The ministry again condemned the “infiltration of the Azerbaijani armed forces into Armenia’s sovereign territory” in May and recent days’ “attacks on Armenian defense positions” at contested sections of the frontier.
Baku maintains that its troops did not cross into Armenia in May and that the latest truce violations resulted from Armenian “provocations.”
The mediators made a similar appeal to the conflicting parties in April. They said they are ready to facilitate Armenian-Azerbaijani talks focusing on their pre-war peace proposals.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian cited their April statement last week when he disputed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s claim that Azerbaijan’s victory in the six-week war put an end to the long-running dispute.