Co-Chairs: Not within Minsk Group Mandate to Investigate Who Instigates Hostilities

Co-Chairs: Not within Minsk Group Mandate to Investigate Who Instigates Hostilities

International Red Cross to Investigate Human Rights Violations in Latest Attacks

YEREVAN—Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group—James Warlick (U.S.), Igor Popov (Russia), and Pierre Andrieu (France)—insisted during a press conference in Yerevan on April 9, that it is not within the mandate of the Co-Chairs to investigate which party is responsible for instigating military operations on the Line of Contact (LoC), reported Armenia’s Yerkir news outlet.

The Minsk Group Co-Chairs during the press conference in Yerevan on April 9. (Photo: Photolure)

Co-Chair Popov said that it is the principal task of the Minsk Group to help the parties stabilize the situation and to reach a point where hostilities are prevented. “Following our meetings it is our general conclusion that the sides are prepared to—or at least show a readiness to—maintain the ceasefire agreement that was reached in Moscow. The main issue is to bring the parties to the negotiation table,” Popov was quoted as saying.

According to the Co-Chairs, one of the most important issues is the return of the remains of servicemen; the International Red Cross is engaged in the process, while the office of the representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk’s, has been co-ordinating the effort, said the co-chairs.

In response to a question regarding the killing of peaceful civilians in the Nagorno-KarabaghRepublic (NKR/Artsakh) by Azerbaijani forces, as well as the mutilation of the bodies of both civilians and soldiers, Warlick said that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs are deeply concerned over the reports of human rights violations during the recent hostilities. Warlick further noted that this issue was raised in both Baku and Yerevan, and said that the co-chairs spoke about this with the International Red Cross during their meetings, asking for the organization to conduct a detailed investigation of the reported incidents, according Yerkir.

Two days earlier, on April 7, NKR President Bako Sahakyan met with the Co-Chairs and Kasprzyk. During the meeting, Sahakyan called Azerbaijan’s aggression as “one of the greatest perils to stability and peace in the South Caucasus and the neighboring regions,” reported Armenia’s MediaMax. Sahakyan also stressed that the NKR Defense Army would continue to put-down any infringement on Artsakh’s independence, sovereignty, and security. He also added that he expects a tough and targeted response by the Minsk Group, according to the report.

During their visit to NKR, the Co-Chairs, along with Kasprzyk, met with NKR Defense Minister Levon Mnatsakanyan at the Defense Army headquarters. During the meeting, Mnatsakanyan presented “irrefutable proof” of Azeri military aggression, particularly of the violent actions taken towards peaceful civilians. According to a press statement released by the NKR Defense Ministry, the Co-Chairs reaffirmed their commitment to solve the conflict peacefully through negotiations.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West