Parties to Karabakh conflict urged to take advantage of “positive momentum” after Sochi summit

Parties to Karabakh conflict urged to take advantage of “positive momentum” after Sochi summit

Photo: www.president.am

The Armenian President received OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs on March 16.

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chair said they urged the parties to the Karabakh conflict “to take advantage of the positive momentum” created at the Sochi Summit, hosted on March 5 by President Dmitri Medvedev, and “to focus on the priority issues” in order to make progress in reaching an agreement on the basic principles for settlement after completing yet another tour of the region.

In a statement released on Thursday and summarizing their trips to Baku, Yerevan and Nagorno-Karabakh on March 15-17, the three co-heads of the group, Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of Russia, also said they discussed with the parties “concrete measures to implement the commitment in the joint statement agreed at Sochi regarding the investigation of violations of the 1994 ceasefire.”

The Minsk Group troika also stressed that “recent events along the Line of Contact, before and after the Sochi Summit, had demonstrated the urgent need for such a mechanism and called upon all the parties to respect the ceasefire.” Referring to their longstanding proposal for the withdrawal of snipers, the co-chairs regretted that “it has not been implemented,” and again urged its adoption, “which could save innocent lives.”

Also, the co-chairs presented their Field Assessment Report to the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh. They noted that they would be briefing the Minsk Group in Vienna on the report on March 23 and would have no public comment on it until then.

The Minsk Group cochairmen were visiting the region against the backdrop of continuing tension along the line of contact of the Karabakh and Azerbaijan military.

The NKR Defense Army reported that a Karabakh soldier was killed by Azeri fire on Thursday evening.

Military authorities in Karabakh called the death particularly deplorable given that the killing occurred only one hour after an International Committee of the Red Cross-mediated exchange of captives (one Azeri prisoner of war and one Armenian civilian) that had been carried out as part of agreements reached in Sochi.

The conflicting sides routinely blame each other of violating the 1994 ceasefire agreement as reported casualties rise on both sides.