OSCE Minsk Group has urged the parties of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to cease using force immediately.
“We, the representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group countries (Russian Federation, the United States of America, France, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey), as well as the incoming Austrian OSCE Chair (2017) and the Serbian OSCE Chair (2015), strongly condemn the outbreak of unprecedented violence along the Line of Contact,” said a statement posted on the OSCE website.
“We extend our condolences to all affected families. We urge the sides to cease using force immediately. There is no military solution to the conflict,” said the statement.
The deterioration of the situation on the ground demonstrates the need for an immediate negotiation, under the auspices of the co-chairs, on a comprehensive settlement, according to the OSCE Minsk Group statement.
“The representatives of the Minsk Group member states affirm their support for the Russian, American, and French Co-Chairs’ mediation efforts and welcome their plans to undertake direct consultations with the sides as soon as possible,” said the statement.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers.
The armed clashes resulted in deaths and injuries among the Azerbaijani population.
Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements. More than 370 Armenian soldiers, 12 tanks, 12 armored vehicles and 15 artillery guns have been destroyed from April 2 until today.
Military operations were stopped on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies on Apr. 5 at 12:00 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours) with the consent of the sides, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry earlier said.
The ministry added that Azerbaijan’s armed units are now carrying out fortification work in the retaken areas.