A routine monitoring of the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had to be abandoned on Thursday because of shooting from unknown sources. Two OSCE teams were conducting the monitoring on both sides of the conflict divide. The monitoring exercise was being led by Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.
A statement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-Chair said that
"Following the usual exchange of security guarantees by local commanders on both sides of the Line of Contact, members of both OSCE teams heard shooting as they approached their observation points. It was not possible to determine from where the shots were fired. Safety and security concerns prompted the Personal Representative to abandon the exercise.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are aware that all those involved in facilitating OSCE monitoring exercises show a high degree of professionalism. They believe that this exceptional and regrettable incident undermines the work of these individuals, and of the Personal Representative and his team, as well as the ceasefire agreement of May 1994. The Co-Chairs urge the relevant authorities to investigate it thoroughly and impartially."
Armenian media sources accused the Azerbaijani side of opening fire whilst the monitoring was ongoing. Monitoring of the line of contact is conducted regularly by the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-In-Office and a handful of assistants. It is one of the few confidence building measures that the sides have been able to agree on following the cease fire that came into place nearly twenty years ago.
It has meanwhile been announced that another monitoring exercise will now be conducted tomorrow, Saturday A spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence said that the monitoring will take place near Ashagi Askipara village in the Kazakh region.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: The OSCE Headquarters in Vienna.