OSCE chair concerned about Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line

Thu 12 Jan 2012 09:34 GMT | 13:34 Local Time

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The current OSCE chairperson-in-office has expressed concern at the situation on the contact line separating Armenian and Azerbaijani troops.

Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore told a press conference in Vienna that, "The situation, particularly around the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, remains a serious concern."

"I think the immediate focus needs to be on strengthening the ceasefire regime, and reaching an agreement to remove the snipers from the contact line. Secondly, we have to move the Minsk process forward. The OSCE co-chairs are working with all sides on strengthening the ceasefire regime," Gilmore said, according to APA.

He said that resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would be one of the top priorities of the Irish chairmanship of the OSCE.

The minister has invited the sides to attend a conference in Dublin on 27 April, where the experience of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland will be discussed.

The OSCE Minsk Group is the international body mediating a settlement to the Karabakh conflict.

The conflict began in 1988 when Armenia made claims on the Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh. In a bitter war Armenian armed forces occupied a swathe of Azerbaijani land, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Despite a ceasefire in 1994, no long-term peace agreement has been reached. The two sides' troops are separated by the contact line running through Azerbaijani territory.

The nub of the conflict remains unresolved - the competing claims of territorial integrity, which Azerbaijan insists takes precedence in the case of Karabakh, and self-determination, which Armenia wants to see for the Armenians of Karabakh.

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