OSCE MF U.S. Co-chair calls for bold steps to advance peace process

OSCE MF U.S. Co-chair calls for bold steps to advance peace process

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, ambassador James Warlick said he is “deeply concerned over continued violence on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, and its potential to damage the peace process.”

"All sides should focus on reducing violence and rhetoric in order to improve the atmosphere for negotiations. Recent deaths and injuries show this is a dangerous conflict with no winners," Warlick told Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency Friday, April 11.

He said that OSCE and all of its institutions support the Co-chairs' efforts to help the sides to reach a peaceful settlement of this conflict.

Warlick added that the events in the region have only underscored the urgency of this task.

"The sides should seize this moment to take bold steps to advance the peace process - whether it is implementing confidence building measures or people-to-people programs, eliminating the use of force as an option once and for all," he said.

The diplomat also stressed that the Co-chairs stand ready to help in any way they can.

"The Co-chairs and I are focused on helping the sides reach a fair and lasting settlement based on core principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and the elements outlined in our presidents' statements over the last five years. Our neutrality is vital to that process," he said.

Warlick went on to say that the Co-chairs visit Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding territories on a regular basis and will continue to do so, although they have no specific dates at this time.

"These visits provide a unique opportunity to better understand the situation there," he added.

The U.S. diplomat also touched upon the meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"The presidents agree on the need for further high-level talks, and we are working to help them reach agreement on a time and place, but it's up to them. Their summit in Vienna last November was an important step for the peace process, and we look forward to following up soon on the substantive issues raised at that time," he said.

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan broke out as result of the ethnic cleansing launched by the Azeri authorities in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Karabakh War was fought from 1991 (when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed) to 1994 (when a ceasefire was sealed by Armenia, NKR and Azerbaijan). Most of Nagorno Karabakh and a security zone consisting of 7 regions are now under control of NKR defense army. Armenia and Azerbaijan are holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group up till now.

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