By Rashid Shirinov
The Austrian OSCE Chairmanship supports the efforts undertaken by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in line with their statement on the return of the body of Azerbaijani soldier, Austria’s Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs told Trend on January 17.
“The Austrian OSCE Chairmanship thinks that humanitarian questions should be dealt as such,” the ministry added.
A reconnaissance group of the Armenian Armed Forces attempted to violate the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border on December 29, 2016. The Armenian group found itself in the ambush of the Azerbaijani army while violating the borders and suffered heavy losses. During the fighting, Azerbaijani serviceman Chingiz Gurbanov went missing. Later, it was clarified that he was killed by the Armenian Armed Forces and his body remained on the territory controlled by the Armenian armed forces.
To receive back the dead body of the Azerbaijani soldier from Armenia, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry officially appealed to the Azerbaijani representation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), OSCE Minsk Group, as well as to the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.
Despite numerous insistent appeals of international structures regarding the return of Chingiz Gurbanov’s body, the Armenian government still keeps the dead body.
“Armenian Armed Forces are still holding the body of an Azerbaijani serviceman killed in the fighting,” the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconti of France and Richard Hoagland of the US – said in a statement from January 9.
“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 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.”
In the comments to Trend, the Austrian side reported that the OSCE Chairmanship actively supports the work of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group through the personal representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, as well as the special representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office for the South Caucasus, Ambassador Gunther Bachler.
“Following its long-standing tradition as a neutral country, Austria stands ready to facilitate or host a meeting of the sides,” the ministry added.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.
Armenia still controls fifth part of Azerbaijan's territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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