Minsk Group Co-Chairs say have no mandate to investigate who started militarry actions

The main objective of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs is to ensure the prevention of reoccurrence of military actions, Russian Co-Chair Igor Popov told a press conference in Yerevan. According to him, they have no mandate to investigate who started the recent hostilities.

Popov said one of the most important issues today is the return of the bodies of the killed soldiers, and the ICRC, as well as Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk’s team are engaged in the search works.

Referring to the issue on the negotiating table and the so called “Lavrov initiatives,” Popov said “it has been mentioned on many occasions that there is no new document on the table.” “There are proposal of the Co-Chairs, which have been discussed over the past few years. They are based on three principles and six elements,” Popov said.

“These principles include non-use of force, the right of peoples to self-determination and territorial integrity. As for the elements, the two most important ones are related to the determination of the status of Nagorno Karabakh and the return of territories. Other elements are related to return of refugees, determination of the width of the corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno Karabakh and peacekeeping mission,” the Russian Co-Chair said.

Popov added, however, that the issue of peacekeepers should be discussed at the final stage, after the conclusion of a peace deal.

Asked about the atrocities committed by the Azerbaijani side against the civilian population, the brutal killings and even beheadings, US Co-Chair James Warlick said: “We’re deeply distressed by the reports of human right violations, with the photos and videos we’ve seen. We’ve asked our partners at the ICRC to investigate what happened exactly. We’re deeply troubled by any human right violation.”

As for the perspectives of Nagorno Karabakh’s return to the negotiating table, Popov said “we’ve said on many occasions that Karabakh should return to talks at a certain stage. “Conclusion of a framework agreement preceding the preparation of a peace deal could be a starting point,” he added.

French Co-Chair Pierre Andrieu said they’re not authorized to investigate who’s responsible for the resumption of military actions. “What’s important for us is to ensure that the agreement on ceasefire reached in Moscow is maintained as long as possible, and to resume the political negotiations,” he added.

As for Turkey’s biased attitude, its support for Azerbaijan, and the possibility of the country’s exclusion from the Minsk Group, Warlick said “no changes in the Minsk Group are expected.” “As you know we met in Vienna for the first time in years and adopted a strong statement. Turkey joined this statement and endorsed it. We’re looking forward to working with all Minsk Group members, including Turkey,” he concluded.

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