By Akbar Mammadov
Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov held discussions on the current dynamics in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and next steps in the peace process with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at a video-conference meeting on June 30.
The meeting took place with the mediation and participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-office. During the meeting lasting one hour, the co-chairs noted the increase of the aggressive rhetoric.
In his turn, Mammadyarov stressed that Armenia's provocative actions escalate the rhetoric. Mammadyarov also raised the issue of illegal activities, including infrastructure changes carried out by Armenia in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh territories of Azerbaijan.
At the meeting, the sides reached an agreement to organize the next video conference of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in July with the mediation and participation of the Minsk Group co-chairs.
Besides, the co-chairs pointed out that they would explore the possibility of organizing the meeting in person between the ministers at the earliest opportunity.
Regarding that meeting, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs made a press statement on the same day, in which they noted the significance of promoting and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to peace and favourable to substantive negotiations.
“They assessed positively the relative stability on the ground and expressed satisfaction that the sides continue to use existing direct communication links to avoid escalation,” reads the statement.
Moreover, the co-chairs recalled their statement of 9 March 2019. In this regard, yet they also touched upon recent provocative statements and inflammatory rhetoric between the sides. For this purpose, the co-chairs added that possible steps intended to change the situation on the ground in tangible ways could undermine the settlement process.
In the statement, the co-chairs emphasized that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, urging that the sides take additional steps to strengthen the ceasefire and prepare the populations for peace.
“The Co-Chairs also stressed the urgency of resuming monitoring exercises under the leadership of the PRCIO as soon as conditions allow,” reads the statement.
To note, the OSCE Minsk co-chairs - Igor Popov (Russia), Stéphane Visconti (France), Andrew Schofer (USA) and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk also participated in the video meeting.
It should be noted that on May 18, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs agreed to work on determining the date and time of the next meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the mediation of the Minsk Group co-chairs after the softening of the outbreak.
Earlier, on 21 April, with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict according to the joint statement adopted in Geneva in a video-conference.
Thus, this year the first meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk took place in Geneva on 28-30 January.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region, which along with seven adjacent regions was occupied by Armenian forces in a war in the early 1990s. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and around one million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France has been mediating the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the signing of the volatile cease-fire agreement in 1994. The Minsk Group’s efforts have resulted in no progress and to this date, Armenia has failed to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) that demand the withdrawal of Armenian military forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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