Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (R) meets with the visiting
co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, 09Sep2010.
The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk
Group arrived in Stepanakert on Thursday to start a `field assessment
mission' to Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh controlled
by Karabakh Armenian forces.
The mediators accompanied by United Nations experts discussed the
upcoming mission with the leadership of the unrecognized
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). They are scheduled to meet with
members of local non-governmental organizations on Friday before
proceeding to the largely unpopulated areas surrounding the disputed
The co-chairs, who announced their intention to `observe the
humanitarian situation' in early September, met with President Serzh
Sarkisian in Yerevan on Wednesday. Sarkisian expressed hope that they
will come up with an `objective' report.
According to the Armenian leader's press office, they also assured
Sarkisian that they will pay a similar visit to a small part of
Karabakh's territory controlled by Azerbaijan `in the next stage of
the monitoring.' They also promised to try to visit a medieval
Armenian cemetery in the Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan exclave reportedly
destroyed by Azerbaijani authorities, the office said.
Incidentally, the mediating troika arrived in Armenia from
Nakhichevan. It met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev there on
Tuesday. According to Azerbaijani news agencies, Aliyev expressed
confidence that the fact-finding mission will result in an `objective
report' certifying `illegal' residence of Armenians in the seven
districts in Azerbaijan proper that were fully or partly occupied by
Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war.
An OSCE team led by a senior German diplomat already inspected those
territories in January-February 2005 to investigate Azerbaijani claims
that they have been illegally populated by Armenians. In a subsequent
report, the mission said it found `no evidence of direct involvement
by the authorities of Armenia in the territories.' `There is no clear
organized resettlement, no non-voluntary resettlement, no
recruitment,' concluded the report.
The 2005 inspection was organized as a result of a compromise
agreement between the conflicting parties and the mediators. The deal
prevented a vote in the UN General Assembly on an Azerbaijani draft
resolution condemning the decade-long Armenian occupation.
The second OSCE inspection of those areas was announced just days
before Azerbaijan withdrew a similar draft resolution, strongly
condemned by Armenia, from the assembly. Armenian officials insist
that the withdrawal was not the result of a compromise deal with Baku.