International mediators called for the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani framework agreement to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as they wrapped up a fresh visit to the region on Thursday.
In a joint statement issued after talks in Baku with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said, “It is the strong view of the Co-Chairs that the time has arrived to finalize and endorse the Basic Principles [of the conflict’s resolution] and move to the drafting of a peace agreement.”
The three diplomats met with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan on Tuesday before proceeding to Karabakh for talks with its leadership. They said in their statement that they discussed in Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku “next steps for reaching agreement on the Basic Principles” drafted by the mediating powers.
It was not clear whether they succeeded in narrowing the conflicting parties’ differences on some key details of the proposed settlement.
The mediators also discussed with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders ways of strengthening the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone. They said the presented both sides with a “draft mechanism for investigation of incidents along the front lines with the participation of all sides.”
“The Co-Chairs will continue to work with the parties to create as soon as possible a transparent and objective investigation process, with the goal of enhancing confidence, decreasing the risk of miscalculation, and saving lives,” added the statement.
The mediating troika also said it is worried that the planned reopening of Nagorno-Karabakh’s sole airport “could lead to further increased tensions.” Azerbaijan has condemned those plans and threatened to shoot down civilian aircraft that would use the airport.
“The Co-Chairs urged the sides to reach an understanding in keeping with international conventions and agreements, as well as current practice between Armenia and Azerbaijan for flights over their territory,” read the statement.
In a warning clearly addressed to the Armenian side, the mediators also said that renewed commercial flights to and from Karabakh “could not be used to support any claim of a change in the current status of Nagorno-Karabakh under international law.”