Moscow concerned over tension between Armenia, Azerbaijan
By Sara Rajabova
Russia, being one of the three co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group created to mediate for solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has voiced concern over the aggravation of situation on the contact line of Armenian and Azerbaijani troops.
"In recent months we have witnessed the intensification of the armed conflict with the use of heavy artillery, heavy machine guns, multiple rocket launchers, which resulted in an increase in the number of casualties, including among the civilian population. This situation cannot but worry us,” Interfax quoted Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying.
Moscow has recently activated efforts to contribute to the settlement of the long-standing conflict, however, no noticeable progress was observed in the negotiation process.
For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict which emerged over Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor. Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by U.S., Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far. Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country's territories.
Intensifying tension on the contact line of Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces highlights the need for undertaking real actions for destabilizing situation in the region.
Karasin believes that the parties to the conflict should redouble their efforts to achieve sustainable peace.
“This firm position of the international mediators clearly expressed in the statement of Russia, U.S. and France during the meeting of the OSCE foreign ministers held last December,” said Karasin.
He added that the parties must also comply with existing agreements, aimed at observing the ceasefire.
The ceasefire regime is being violated along the Armenia - Azerbaijan border on a daily basis. Azerbaijan’s positions come under intensive fire of the Armenian armed forces.
Regular violations of the ceasefire, armed attacks on civilians, show that Armenia is not interested in resolving the conflict through peaceful means. Baku believes Armenia’s true aim is to continue the occupation of Azerbaijani lands and maintain the status quo by all means.
Karasin also touched upon the meeting of the of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents held in December 19. “We hope that the discussion will have a stabilizing effect on the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the line of contact,” he said.
Russia, as one of three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group makes active efforts to help the parties to the conflict to reach a compromise, Karasin said.
Moscow has recently made certain suggestions for the peaceful resolution of the problem. Currently, the new proposals put forward by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on solving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict are under consideration.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said these proposals reflect the agreements reached during the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Sochi, Newport and Paris and have been worked out based on the renewed Madrid principles.
The sides to the conflict currently hold talks based on the renewed Madrid principles, which envisage return of occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, ensure the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence, future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and etc.
However, the peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group have been largely fruitless so far.