Minsk Group Urges Respect for Vienna, St. Petersburg Agreements

(From left to right) Armenian flag, flags of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair representing countries (USA, Russia, France), and the OSCE flag

(From left to right) Armenian flag, flags of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair representing countries (USA, Russia, France), and the OSCE flag

MOSCOW/PARIS/WASHINGTON (OSCE)—The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Richard Hoagland of the United States), released the following statement on January 9:

“Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of a December 29, 2016 attempted incursion on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border resulting in casualties. Armenian Armed Forces are still holding the body of an Azerbaijan serviceman killed in the fighting.

Violations of the ceasefire are unacceptable and are contrary to the acknowledged commitments of the Parties, who bear full responsibility, not to use force. The Co-Chairs urge the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to strictly observe the agreements reached during summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg in 2016, including obligations to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism. The Co-Chairs also urge the return, without delay, of human remains, in accord with the agreements of the Astrakhan Summit of 2010, bearing in mind the exclusively humanitarian nature of this issue. We call upon the Parties to cease mutual accusations and undertake all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground.

The Co-Chairs extend their condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and to all Armenians and Azerbaijanis for whom hopes for the New Year have been darkened with the grief of senseless loss.”

In response to the OSCE Minsk Group statement, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian during an interview with Armenpress said “We agree that the ceasefire violations are unacceptable.”

“We also share the view that agreements reached at the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg should be strictly observed, including the creation of an OSCE investigative mechanism in the shortest possible time,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said that the Co-Chairs on numerous occasions “have pointed to the side which rejects the creation of such mechanism, therefore that side bears full responsibility for the incidents and ceasefire violations.”

“We hope the Co-Chairs will be consistent in strongly responding to any use of force or the threat of force in the conflict zone, especially considering that ceasefire violations result in human losses. We must not allow a delayed response to be accepted by the violators of the ceasefire as tolerance towards their actions,” Nalbandian stated.

“When Azerbaijan hinders the creation of investigation mechanism and the expansion of capabilities of the team of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the Co-Chairs remain the only format which could and should continue its preventive activity in accordance to its mandate,” the Armenian Foreign Minister stated.

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