STEPANAKERT (Combined sources) — International mediators representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) visited Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday amid reports of violations of the fragile ceasefire agreed by Armenia and Azerbaijan on April 5 after days of intense fighting.
The Russian, American and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group were in Baku on Wednesday to discuss ways to end bloodshed in the conflict zone that has killed scores on both sides since the latest flare-up of confrontation on April 2. They are also expected to visit Yerevan on April 9 after talks with authorities in Stepanakert.
Cessation of hostilities became possible apparently through Russian mediation as the chiefs of the general staffs of the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan conducted talks and reached agreement in Moscow.
The international mediators met with the leadership of NKR on Thursday as part of their efforts to prevent the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict from escalating into a full-scale war.
The meeting with president Bako Sahakian addressed issues related to the large-scale military operations launched by Azerbaijan against the Karabakh Republic. President Sahakian called the treacherous aggression of Azerbaijani as one of the greatest perils to stability and peace in the South Caucasus and the neighboring regions, qualifying it a serious challenge to the civilized world too.
Bako Sahakian underlined that the NKR Defense Army averted and would always rebuff any encroachment on the republic’s independence, sovereignty and security, adding that he expected from OSCE Minsk Group tough and targeted response and steps towards the destructive policy of Azerbaijan.
General Levon Mnatsakanian, the commander of the Karabakh Armenian army, was the first to meet with the mediators accompanied by Andrzej Kasprzyk, the top OSCE official monitoring the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone.
A statement by the army said Mnatsakanian presented them with “irrefutable evidence of the Azerbaijani military aggression” against the Armenian-populated territory. It said the mediators stressed the need for urgent steps aimed at a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh dispute.
The three co-chairs arrived in Stepanakert from Baku where they met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The U.S. envoy reportedly reaffirmed their view that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily. Warlick said ahead of the talks with Karabakh leaders that they expect to “hear first-hand about the violence.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also met with Aliyev when he arrived in the Azerbaijani capital later on Wednesday for a trilateral meeting with his Azerbaijani and Iranian counterparts. Lavrov said after those talks on Thursday that progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks is needed to prevent a repeat of the unprecedented escalation of the conflict.
“As a country with close and good neighborly relations with both countries (Armenia and Azerbaijan), Russia will do everything to find a political solution to the conflict,” Russian media quoted Lavrov as saying. He said that the three mediating powers are “very close” to making their peace proposals acceptable to the conflicting parties. He did not go into details.