Russia, together with other co-chairing countries, supports the reduction of tensions on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops and is taking measures to increase the number of OSCE observers in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, told a briefing on Wednesday, an APA correspondent reported from Moscow.
“This topic was discussed at the meeting of the Russian president with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts in St. Petersburg in June 2016, as well as during the visits of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Baku and Yerevan in November 2017,” said the spokesperson.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.
A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.
The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.
Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the CSCE (OSCE after the Budapest summit held in December 1994) Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, the US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.
Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Zakharova noted that several versions of the document regulating the activities of OSCE within the OSCE have been developed.
She went on to say that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs presented updated proposals during the meeting with the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in the Polish city of Krakow on January 18, 2018.
“The foreign ministers agreed in principle on the document developed by the mediators. There are a few technical details left. The parties to the conflict need to agree on this before a mechanism to increase the number of OSCE observers is launched,” said the spokesperson.
As for the prospects for a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict, Zakharova reiterated: “The parties themselves must demonstrate a political will to reach a compromise solution that will put an end to this protracted conflict.”
“At the Geneva meeting in October last year, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to intensify the negotiation process, after which the foreign ministers of the two countries met twice and made a statement,” the spokesperson said.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will visit the region in the first decade of February to clarify the parties’ position on problematic issues, added Zakharova.