Baku criticizes OSCE MG for turning blind eye to Armenia’s provocation

By: Sara Rajabova

Baku has criticized the OSCE Minsk Group for covering up Armenia’s recent provocation on the contact line between Armenian-Azerbaijani troops.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s criticism came as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, who are engaged in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, didn’t name an instigator for shelling during their monitoring of ceasefire on the contact line as part of their recent visit to region.

“Upon initial agreement the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs passed on 27 October from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories through the line of contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces to the territories controlled by Azerbaijani army. At the very moment a ceasefire monitoring exercise was conducted by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and his field officers on the road between Azerbaijan’s Tartar and Aghdara regions. Despite prior agreement to undertake measures to ensure safety of the OSCE personnel, repeated gunfire was shot from the occupied territories controlled by Armenia’s armed forces in the direction of the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan. This incident forced the OSCE monitoring team to seek protection of the Azerbaijani armed forces,” said a statement issued by the ministry on October 31.

According to the representatives of Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, who were on the ground at a time of the incident, the OSCE team immediately contacted the opposite side to have the fire halted and to renew guarantees to hold fire.

The ministry said it is regrettable that despite the obvious source and direction from which shots were fired, the co-chairs did not find space in their statement of 29 October to reflect properly this incident and did not name the violator.

“However, this does not relieve the Armenian side of the responsibility for this and other numerous provocations,” it stressed.

Furthermore, the ministry noted that Azerbaijan shares the assessment of the co-chairs that this incident represents a deliberate attempt to undermine efforts towards a settlement.

“Azerbaijan has repeatedly brought to the attention of the international community that over the past years and, specifically, since January 2015, cease-fire violations and armed provocations of the Armenian side have become more frequent and violent, causing, inter alia, deaths and injuries among Azerbaijani civilians, including women and children. Ahead of the next round of talks in September 2015, in New York, Armenia’s armed forces dramatically intensified cease-fire violations, using mortars and large-caliber machine guns and artillery, specifically targeting Azerbaijani civilians living in the areas along the contact line,” the ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry also recalled that just after another round of talks of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Paris on 27 October 2014, arranged by French President Francois Hollande, the Armenian armed forces started large-scale military exercises in Azerbaijan occupied territories on 6 November 2014. On 12 November 2014, two “Mi-24” attack helicopters of the Armenian air forces, who were also deployed for the military exercises, approached and made attack maneuvers in the immediate vicinity of the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces in the occupied Aghdam region of Azerbaijan. As response to this attack one of the helicopters was shot down,” the ministry said.

The ministry went on to say that consistent and deliberate provocations of the Armenian side pursue the obvious goal to create explosive situation on the ground, undermine the efforts for the political resolution of the conflict and consolidate the status-quo of occupation.

“Azerbaijan once again demands from the Armenian side to put an end to its provocations, engage constructively in the conflict settlement process, comply with its international obligations and to withdraw its armed forces from Azerbaijan’s territories,” the ministry underlined.

OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, James Warlick of the U.S., and Pierre Andrieu of France issued report on October 29, following their visit to the region on October 26-28.

The OSCE Minsk Group was tasked to mediate for the peaceful resolution of the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, emerged 1988 over Armenia’s illegal territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in the exhausting conflict. Since a war in the early 1990s, the Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by U.S., Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country’s territories.


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