OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs issue statement
BAKU, 14 April 2011 - The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, released the following statement today:
"The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) traveled April 11-14 to Yerevan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Baku. Joined by Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office (PRCiO), the Co-Chairs met separately with Armenian President Serge Sargsian, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh. In their meetings, the Co-Chairs discussed next steps for reaching agreement on the Basic Principles. It is the strong view of the Co-Chairs that the time has arrived to finalize and endorse the Basic Principles and move to the drafting of a peace agreement.
On April 13, the Co-Chairs crossed the Line of Contact (LOC) by foot, before continuing to Baku. As with their crossing of the LOC in September 2010, this was intended to demonstrate the importance of maintaining and strengthening the 1994 ceasefire and that the LOC should not become a permanent barrier to contacts among neighboring peoples, as well as to reaffirm the Co-Chairs' need to visit any areas affected by the conflict. In conjunction with the crossing of the LOC, the Co-Chairs also visited part of the region southwest of the city of Terter. In addition, the Co-Chairs visited the village of Orta Karvend, accompanying the PRCiO in monitoring the area where the reported March 8 incident occurred.
Building on the March 5 joint statement made in Sochi by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Russian Federation, the Co-Chairs also presented to the sides a draft mechanism for investigation of incidents along the front lines with the participation of all sides. The Co-Chairs will continue to work with the parties to create as soon as possible a transparent and objective investigation process, with the goal of enhancing confidence, decreasing the risk of miscalculation, and saving lives.
The Co-Chairs expressed their concern that the planned opening of an airport in Nagorno-Karabakh could lead to further increased tensions. They cautioned that the operation of flights to and from this airport could not be used to support any claim of a change in the current status of Nagorno-Karabakh under international law. The Co-Chairs urged the sides to reach an understanding in keeping with international conventions and agreements, as well as current practice between Armenia and Azerbaijan for flights over their territory. The Co-Chairs welcomed assurances from the sides that they will reject any threat or attack against civil aircraft, pursue the matter through diplomatic steps, and refrain from politicizing the issue.
The Co-Chairs will travel to Washington in late April for consultations with senior United States government officials, and to discuss the status of progress towards a peace settlement."