YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — International mediators brokering a peaceful solution to the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have urged the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from statements and actions “suggesting significant changes to the situation on the ground” ahead of their summit talks expected soon.
In a statement published on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) official website on March 10, co-chairs of the Minsk Group Igor Popov, of Russia, Stephane Visconti, of France, and Andrew Schofer, of the United States, welcomed the commitment of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to meet soon under the auspices of the co-chairs.
The three said that working closely with the two countries’ foreign ministers, they “have been making preparations for this important leaders’ meeting,” which will be the first direct contact between Pashinyan and Aliyev conducted under the Minsk Group auspices.
The co-chairs stressed the importance of “maintaining an environment conducive to productive discussions and continue to assess positively the recent lack of casualties on the front lines.”
“The Co-Chairs also welcome some initial steps being taken in the region to prepare the populations for peace and encourage the sides to intensify such efforts. At the same time, the Co-Chairs reiterate the critical importance of reducing tensions and minimizing inflammatory rhetoric. In this context, the Co-Chairs urge the sides to refrain from statements and actions suggesting significant changes to the situation on the ground, prejudging the outcome of or setting conditions for future talks, demanding unilateral changes to the format without agreement of the other party, or indicating readiness to renew active hostilities,” the mediating troika said.
Pashinyan and Aliyev traded accusations in their public statements earlier this month just days after the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group announced that the two leaders had agreed to meet soon for further talks.