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OSCE Minsk Group calls on Yerevan and Baku to resume talks and return monitors

The co-chairs noted that Yerevan and Baku have exchanged accusations of provoking the current aggravation

VIENNA, July 13. /TASS/. The Minsk Group pf the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume substantive talks and stands for re-deployment of international observers in the conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh as soon as it is possible, as follows from the press statement by the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairs released on Monday following the aggravation of the situation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.

"The Co-Chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office (PRCIO) Andrzej Kasprzyk regret the loss of life and offer their condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured. The Co-Chairs and PRCiO have been in direct contact with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials since the beginning of the incident," the document reads.

The co-chairs noted that Yerevan and Baku have exchanged accusations of provoking the current aggravation. "The Minsk Group Co-Chairs condemn the recent ceasefire violations and call upon the sides to take all necessary measures to prevent any further escalation, including by use of the existing direct communication channels between them," the statement emphasizes. "The Minsk Group Co-Chairs also call on the sides to resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible and emphasize the importance of returning OSCE monitors to the region as soon as circumstances allow."

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said on Sunday Armenian army units had tried to attack Azerbaijan’s positions at the Tovuz section of the border with use of artillery systems. According to the ministry, clashes continued through the night. Four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and four more were wounded.

Armenia’s defense ministry said, in turn, that the border situation had aggravated after Azerbaijan’s attempted attack. The Armenian defense ministry said that two Armenian policemen and three soldiers had received minor wounds in shelling by the Azerbaijani side.

The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of 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 early 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic.

In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them.

Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been held since 1992 in the format of the so-called OSCE Minsk Group, comprising along with its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States - Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Turkey.

A ceasefire agreement was reached on May 12, 1994. The OSCE monitors visit the conflict zone to monitor the situation. Such missions were suspended in April amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.