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VIENNA, November 19. /TASS/. Co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group for Nagorno Karabakh that reports to the European security organization OSCE have called on parties to the Karabakh conflict to provide access to the helicopter that was brought down by Azerbaijani forces last week.
The conflict in Nagorny Karabakh, a mostly Armenian-populated enclave region of Azerbaijan, broke out at the end of the 1990’s when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were still constituent republics of the Soviet Union. In the early 1990’s, it took the form of a bloody military conflict.
A ceasefire agreement signed in 1994. Although no comprehensive solution to the conflict has been found ever since, ceasefire is generally observed, with minor occasional disruptions.
Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said last week it had brought down a helicopter of the Armenian Armed Forces over the territory of Karabakh.
Ambassadors of Russia, France and the U.S. Igor Popov, Pierre Andrieu and James Warlick who co-chair the Minsk Group have expressed their deep concern over the absence of “humanitarian access” to the site where the Azerbaijani forces downed the helicopter on November 12.
“The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group […] remain deeply concerned that there has been no humanitarian access to the crash site of the military helicopter downed by Azerbaijani forces on November 12,” the statement says. “The wreckage of the helicopter lies in a heavily mined area of neutral territory on the Line of Contact.”
“We call on the sides to cease firing in the vicinity of the crash site and facilitate the demining of the area surrounding the site,” the ambassadors say.
“In the spirit of the Astrakhan statement of October 2010 between the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, the Co-Chairs urge Azerbaijan to permit the recovery of the bodies of the victims, and Armenia to cooperate fully with all efforts to resolve this humanitarian situation,” the statement said.
“We note the presence of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk and his team in the region, and encourage the sides to use his good offices to allow access,” Ambassadors Popov, Landrieu and Warlick said.
“We reaffirm our November 12 statement, reminding the sides of their responsibilities to respect the ceasefire and honor the commitments they made in Sochi, Newport, and Paris to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” the statement said.