VIENNA, Austria (A.W.)—The Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group released a statement on Jan. 10, which—once again—failed to label Azerbaijan as the aggressor following the infiltration attempt that took place at the Armenian border near Tavush on Dec. 29.
“Violations of the ceasefire are unacceptable and are contrary to the acknowledged commitments of the Parties, who bear full responsibility, not to use force,” said the statement, which failed to blame either side for the ceasefire violations.
The Co-Chairs urged the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to abide by the agreements reached during the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg and to also return any human remains left on opposing territory, referring to the body of the Azerbaijani servicemen who was shot at an Armenian border post.
Responding to the statement, Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian agreed that that ceasefire violations are unacceptable and that a mechanism for ceasefire violation investigations must be implemented.
“On numerous occasions the Co-Chair countries have pointed to the side which rejects the creation of such mechanism, therefore that side bears full responsibility for the incidents and ceasefire violations. Such mechanism will give an opportunity to cease what the Co-Chairs refer to as mutual accusations. Although when the Azerbaijani saboteur is neutralized in the Armenian trenches, it is more than evident even without the mechanism, which side initiates the attack,” Nalbandian said, adding “We hope that the Co-Chairs will be persistent in promptly and strongly reacting to any use of force or threat of force in the conflict zone, especially, when the ceasefire violations result in human losses.”
On Dec. 29, shortly after Azerbaijan’s infiltration attempt, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) called upon the Minsk Group Co-Chairs as well as the United States State Department and to condemn the attack. “Ilham’s Aliyev’s fatal cross-border attack today into Armenia follows a deeply troubling, yet clearly predictable multi-year pattern of Azerbaijani aggression around the Christmas and New Year holidays. We have called upon our State Department and OSCE Minsk Group partners to immediately, forcefully and explicitly condemn Baku’s reckless belligerence,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA, on the day of the attack.
Read the OSCE Minsk Group’s Jan. 10 statement in its entirety below.
Baku and Yerevan continue to accuse each other of a Dec. 29, 2016, attempted incursion on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border resulting in casualties. Armenian Armed Forces are still holding the body of an Azerbaijan serviceman killed in the fighting.
Violations of the ceasefire are unacceptable and are contrary to the acknowledged commitments of the Parties, who bear full responsibility, not to use force. The Co-Chairs urge the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to strictly observe the agreements reached during summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg in 2016, including obligations to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism. The Co-Chairs also urge the return, without delay, of human remains, in accord with the agreements of the Astrakhan Summit of 2010, bearing in mind the exclusively humanitarian nature of this issue. We call upon the Parties to cease mutual accusations and undertake all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground.
The Co-Chairs extend their condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and to all Armenians and Azerbaijanis for whom hopes for the New Year have been darkened with the grief of senseless loss.