In a joint statement issued on Tuesday night, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian also said the conflicting sides must not use force to resolve border disputes.
“The [OSCE Minsk Group] Co-Chair countries call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and provocative actions and to implement in full the commitments they undertook on 9 November 2020 and reconfirmed on 26 November 2021 in statements made by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, and President of the Russian Federation and other jointly agreed ceasefire arrangements,” read the statement.
Blinken, Lavrov and Le Drian said they expect Baku and Yerevan to “work constructively” to demarcate the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and restore economic and transport links between the two South Caucasus states.
The Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders reported major progress on both issues after holding trilateral talks in the Russian city of Sochi on November 26. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani working group dealing with transport issues will formalize in the coming days “decisions which we agreed today.”
However, the group co-headed by deputy prime ministers of the three states announced no agreements after holding a meeting in Moscow on December 1.
On Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev renewed his threats to forcibly open a land “corridor” that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia. The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned the threats and said they run counter to understandings reached at Sochi.
“The Co-Chair countries also note with concern recent incidents on the non-demarcated Armenia-Azerbaijan border and reaffirm that the use or threat of force to resolve border disputes is unacceptable,” added the top diplomats of the three mediating powers.
They further urged the sides to allow U.S., Russian and French envoys co-chairing the Minsk Group to visit the conflict zone “as soon as possible” and “assess the situation on the ground first-hand.”
The co-chairs had for decades travelled to Karabakh and met with its leadership during regular tours of the conflict zone. The visits practically stopped with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent outbreak of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
The mediators planned to resume their shuttle diplomacy after organizing talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in New York on September 24. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian suggested last month that their trip is delayed by Azerbaijan.