Settlement of Karabakh conflict requires redoubling of efforts
The Deputy of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Grigory Karasin, summed up the results of the year, paying particular attention to the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"In recent months we have witnessed the intensification of the armed conflict with the use of heavy artillery, heavy machine guns, multiple-launch rocket systems, which resulted in an increase in the number of casualties, including among the civilian population," Interfax cited him as saying.
Therefore, according to the deputy minister, the sides need to redouble their efforts: only under this condition can a sustainable peace be achieved. "This firm position of the international mediators was clearly expressed in the joint statement of Russia, the US and France in early December 2015 at the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council," Karasin reminded.
"The sides must also respect the existing agreements aimed at strengthening the ceasefire regime," the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
"We hope that the negotiations will have a stabilizing effect on the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the contact line," he said.
"Russia, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, is making active efforts to help the sides reach a compromise. There was a series of consultations between Lavrov and his colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia, which addressed all the issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I hope that this work will continue soon," Karasin said.
The recent summit in Berne on December 19, during which the meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place, gave both sides the opportunity to discuss practical steps to reduce violations of the ceasefire and the number of victims among the civilian population. Noting the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Baku and Yerevan to work closely with the peacekeepers to de-escalate the situation, to refrain from any measures which could lead to more violence.
"The summit offered the presidents an opportunity to clarify their positions. The presidents recognized that the situation on the ground has deteriorated and expressed concern about civilian casualties caused by the use of heavy weapons," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
"At their request, the Minsk Group co-chairs will continue to work on proposals to reduce the risk of violence. The co-chairs will continue to work on proposals to reduce the risk of violence. The co-chairs will continue to support a meeting of the Presidents next year to continue their discussions on a settlement. As a co-chair country, the United States remains firmly committed to mediating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said.
"Our Minsk Group co-chair, Ambassador Warlick, together with his Russian and French counterparts continue to discuss these and other measures with both sides. Another way to reduce tensions, we believe, is to increase contacts among the communities of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side by side for generations, and we believe that for peace to come, they will need to trust each other once again," Kirby added.