The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) visited Yerevan and Baku February 8-11. They were accompanied on the visits by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Amb. Andrzej Kasprzyk. In Yerevan, they met with President Serzh Sargsian, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, and Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan. In Baku, they met with President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and Minister of Defense Safar Abiyev.
In their meetings in both Yerevan and Baku, the Co-Chairs stressed that the time has arrived for decisive action on behalf of peace to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Co-Chairs believe there has been positive movement as a result of the work that has been done since the October 2010 Astrakhan Summit. In that context, they urged the sides to make further progress to allow the peace process to proceed to its next phase.
The OSCE Minsk Group has not changed anything in the position of conflicting parties, rather, the co-chairs were once again informed of Azerbaijan's readiness to “de-occupy their territories”. The visit, not being previously announced, came as unexpected to Armenian and Azerbaijani public. Still, the fact did not change anything. To promote a climate conducive to peace, the Co-Chairs made a joint statement, urging conflicting parties to “show restraint both on the ground and in their public statements.”
However, to Azerbaijan, both mediators and the international community's recommendations are mere words. According to Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev, Azerbaijan is seriously preparing for the “de-occupation of its lands”. “In such a situation any state would do the same. No one can accuse Azerbaijan in this matter,” he said at a meeting with the OSCE MG co-chairs and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk.
Abiyev's statements are completely opposite to those of Armenian Defense Minister. At the meeting with OSCE MG co-chairs, Seyran Ohanyan stressed Armenian side's strict adherence to ceasefire. Mr. Ohanyan expressed concern over Azerbaijan's ceasefire violations and sniper attacks, adequately responded to by Armenian army.
As for the aim of the visit, Bernard Fassier stipulated it as an attempt to reach agreement on “basic principles” of Karabakh conflict settlement.