VIENNA, June 24. /TASS/. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have called on Armenia and Azerbaijan not to hamper the expansion of the office of the OSCE chairperson-in-office’s personal representative.
"We urge Azerbaijan and Armenia to remove all remaining obstacles to expanding the Mission of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office," the Russian, French and U.S. ambassadors said in a joint statement posted on the organization’s website on Friday.
"We also urge progress in substantive talks and on a proposal to establish an OSCE investigative mechanism. We will continue our engagement with the sides to advance all of these outcomes from the last two meetings between the Presidents," the statement says.
The ambassadors called on the sides to "to honor the agreements which were reflected in the Joint Statements of the 16 May summit in Vienna and the 20 June summit in St. Petersburg."
The situation along the contact line of conflicting sides in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan, deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2 when fierce clashes began. The parties to the conflict accused each other of violating the truce. At a meeting of chiefs of General Staff of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow an agreement was reached on the ceasefire from noon local time (0800GMT) on April 5. Since then, the sides have reported ceasefire violations along the contact line.
The participants of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh in Vienna on May 16 involving the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia and mediated by the foreign ministers from the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries (Russia, the United States and France) agreed to observe ceasefire in the region in compliance with the 1994-1995 accords. The parties to the conflict also agreed to complete as soon as possible the work on an OSCE tool on investigating incidents on the contact line.
The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians, broke out in the late 1980s.
In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.