ATHENS, 11 May 2009 - The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, expressed hope today that the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would make further progress towards a peaceful settlement, and urged them to implement fully the provisions of the ceasefire, including pulling back snipers from the front lines.
Speaking ahead of the 15th anniversary of the ceasefire agreement that ended one of the most violent conflicts in the area of the former Soviet Union , Bakoyannis said that she welcomed the constructive discussions between President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Serzh Sarksyan of Armenia in Prague on 7 May facilitated by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
"I fully support the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as of my Personal Representative, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, to encourage a peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, on the basis of the Madrid Document. Such a settlement is the only way for the peoples of the region to enjoy the fruits of peace and cooperation and we must keep up the momentum that all sides have worked so hard to achieve," she said.
"We must also keep in mind that despite the important ceasefire that was signed 15 years ago, the situation on the ground remains extremely volatile, and tragically, lives continue to be lost. Further confidence-building measures are necessary, and I urge the parties to respect all provisions of the ceasefire, as well as the proposals of the Co-Chairs at the 2008 Helsinki OSCE Ministerial Conference to withdraw snipers from the front lines."
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which deals with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, are Ambassador Yuri Merzlyakov of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Bernard Fassier of France and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza of the United States.
The ceasefire entered into force on 12 May 1994.