Minsk Group Co-Chairs Visit Artsakh, Armenia
STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN—The co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group over the weekend met with leaders of Armenia and Artsakh in another round of negotiations for a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On Sunday, the co-chairs Igor Popov (Russia), Stephane Visconti (France) and Richard Hoagland (US), along with the personal representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office Andrzej Kasprzyk met with Artsakh President Bako Sahakian and discussed issues related to the Karabakh conflict resolution, with a special emphasis placed on the situation along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border.
Sahakian drew the attention of the co-chairs to the destructive policy of Azerbaijan, presenting the mediators with data on cease-fire breaches and violations of international norms and principles, qualifying them as the critical hindrance to the conflict resolution process and a serious threat for maintaining peace and stability in the region.
Sahakian also reiterated Artakh’s strict adherence to the peaceful resolution of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Following the meeting with Sahakian, Popov, the Russian co-chair, told reporters that the statements made by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs are aimed at preventing tensions along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, reported Armenpress.
“Our statements have been addressed and are aimed at maintaining the conflict’s peaceful resolution process”, Popov said.
Hoagland, the US Co-Chair, briefed reporters about the topics discussed at the meeting, stating that the sides talked about issues related to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, as well as various sectors of the economy and financial sectors.
Artsakh’s presidential spokesperson David Babayan said that visits by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs were important since they “help ensure the continuity of the peace process and allow for the discussion of different issues.”
“We have a long way to go before we can reach a final resolution, especially considering the conflicting approaches of the parties,” Babayan said, adding that “Azerbaijan’s non-constructive approach does not inspire hope for a quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Therefore, we place the emphasis on maintenaning peace and stability.”
The Co-chairmen were in Yerevan Saturday and met with President Serzh Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Vigen Sagsyan.
Sarkisian made references to the most recent breaches on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, where just last week, Azerbaijani forces shelled villages in the Tavush Province. He also discussed the continuing unrest on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, known as the Line of Contact.
The sides emphasized the importance of implementing agreements reached on the highest level, referring to the accords reached last year in Vienna and St. Petersburg following Azerbaijan’s brutal attack of Karabakh positions in April 2016, commonly known as the “Four Day War.”
During his meeting with the Minsk Group delegation, Nalbandian accused Baku of continuing to ignore their calls for the conflicting parties to comply with confidence-building agreements that were reached by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Sarkisian last year. Nalbandian urged the mediators to take “concrete steps” in order to “rein in this unconstructive and provocative policy by Azerbaijan.”
During his meeting with the mediators, Defense Minister Sargsyan welcomed the targeted response by the co-chairmen following last week’s Azerbaijani attack on Armenian border villages.
Sargsyan emphasized the importance of implementing investigative mechanisms, which he said, “will help build confidence between the parties.”
The Minsk Group delegation is scheduled to visit Baku later this week.
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