Minsk group urges bold Karabakh steps
LOS CABOS, Mexico / YEREVAN
Armenian President Sarkisian (3rd L) stand at a podium in the city of Stepanakert. AFP photoThe United States, France and Russia said June 18 they were united in a commitment to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to take decisive steps to resolve it.
“We regret that the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia did not take the decisive steps that our countries called for in the joint statement” issued at the G8 summit in Deauville last year, the three states said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, the progress that has been achieved should provide the momentum to complete work on the framework for a comprehensive peace.” Armenia and Azerbaijan remain locked in a stand-off over the enclave, which Armenian forces seized during a war in the early 1990s that killed nearly 30,000 people and forced another million to flee their homes.
The statement issued at the G20 summit in Mexico by the three nations, acting as mediators as the “Minsk Group,” came as the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met in Paris at the latest in a long-running series of peace talks.
“Military force will not resolve the conflict and would only prolong the suffering and hardships endured by the peoples of the region,” said presidents François Hollande of France, Barack Obama of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
“Only a peaceful, negotiated settlement can allow the entire region to move beyond the status quo toward a secure and prosperous future,” the statement said.
While visiting the volatile Caucasus region earlier this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the recent intensive clashes could have “unpredictable and disastrous consequences.”
As diplomacy gains pace, Azerbaijani forces killed an Armenian soldier on June 18 in the latest gun battle along the frontline in the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh, the Karabakh administration said. Nineteen-year-old conscript Aram Gyulnazarian died after being hit by Azerbaijani gunfire, the administration said in a statement. The soldier was the 10th reported killed this month in clashes along the Karabakh frontline and on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the worst outbreak of violence between the ex-Soviet enemies for several years.