OSCE Minsk Group urges Armenia not to foil demining in Karabakh

14 April 2021 13:39 (UTC+04:00)

By Vafa Ismayilova

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the U.S.) have urged Armenia to stop efforts that foil the effective demining operations in Azerbaijan's liberated regions, Trend has reported.

In a joint statement issued on April 13, the co-chairs welcomed achievements reached as part of a trilateral peace deal signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders to end the 44-day war in autumn 2020.

"The Co-Chairs note with satisfaction the consolidation of the ceasefire, and are closely monitoring the implementation of the agreement reached by the parties on November 10, 2020. The Co-Chairs welcome the significant achievements with regard to the return of the remains of the deceased, and the ongoing progress with regard to the resettlement of those displaced by the conflict, provision of humanitarian assistance and adequate living conditions, as well as constructive discussions aimed at unblocking transportation and communication lines throughout the region," the statement said.

However, they stressed the problematic areas that need more efforts to be resolved.

"The Co-Chairs remind the sides that additional efforts are required to resolve remaining areas of concern and to create an atmosphere of mutual trust conducive to long-lasting peace. These include issues related to, inter alia: the exchange of all data necessary to conduct effective demining of conflict regions; the preservation and protection of religious and cultural heritage; and the fostering of direct contacts and co-operation between communities affected by the conflict as well as other people-to-people confidence-building measures," it added.

The co-chairs also expressed their strong support "for the continuing activities and possible expansion of the mission of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office (PRCiO) and call on the sides to provide full access and support to its efforts".

They expressed readiness to visit the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surrounding areas to assess the situation.

"The Co-Chairs underscore their readiness to resume working visits to the region, including Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, to carry out their assessment. In this regard, the Co-Chairs remind the sides of the requirement to provide unimpeded access and maximum flexibility of movement with regard to the Co-Chairs’ travel itineraries, in accordance with their mandate and previous practice," the statement said.

As OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries Russia, U.S. and France had been mediating a peaceful solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the signing of the volatile cease-fire agreement in 1994. The Minsk Group’s efforts resulted in no progress as Armenia refused to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its troops from Azerbaijani territories, which was the main obstacle to the resolution of the conflict.

The trilateral peace deal signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10, 2020, ended the three-decade conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region that along with the seven adjacent regions came under the occupation of Armenian armed forces in the war in the 1990s. 

On January 11, 2021, the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders signed the second statement since the end of the 44-day war. The newly-signed statement is set to implement clause 9 of the November 2020 statement related to the unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region.

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