The violence and tensions on the line of contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border will be high on the agenda of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’s meetings in Yerevan and Baku.
“We are concerned about these tensions, in particular, the use of heavy weapons, including mortars. We are concerned that this leads to increasing violence, heightened tensions and civilian deaths,” US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick told reporters in Yerevan.
“Our message in both Yerevan and Baku is to respect the ceasefire and reduce tensions.”
Warklick said the mediators will discuss with the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan the principles behind a comprehensive settlement and will talk about the possibility of organizing a summit meeting before the end of the year.
“Both Presidents have committed themselves to an intensified dialogue. They signal that they do want to meet with each other, and we’d like to use this visit as an opportunity to identify the possible dates and begin to make arrangements for the summit,” Warlick said.
The third reason the mediators are in the region is to talk about building trust and respect for security. “It comes to confidence-building measures and people-to people programs,” Amb. Warlick noted.
The US Co-Chair said that negotiations have been going on in one form or another for 20 years now, and added that “time has come for more structured negotiations.”
As for the Royce-Engel letter, Mr. Warlick said: “We fundamentally agree with the recommendations Congressmen Royce and Engel are making. Honestly, they are not new. Those are the ideas and issues the Co-Chairs have been working with for quite some time.”
The Ambassador stressed the importance of resuming discussions on an OSCE investigative mechanism, which would be helpful along the line of contact and the international border.
“We need an investigative mechanism so that we don’t see one side accusing the other and have no bases to know who committed particular acts of violence,” he added.
Warlick reiterated his earlier statement that recognition of Nagorno Karabakh by Armenia would be seen in Baku as a provocation. “Neither side should take steps that will incite violence or provoke the other side.”