This was first published in March 15, 2008 Armenian Reporter
Former NKR official calls for measures to strengthen Karabakh cease-fire
by Emil Sanamyan
WASHINGTON – “The situation on the Line of Contact (LoC) escalated in large part because of the absence of clear international mechanisms of control over the cease-fire regime,” former senior Nagorno-Karabakh diplomat Masis Mayilian told www.kavkaz-uzel.ru on March 10.
He was speaking shortly after Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought a day-long skirmish along the LoC on March 4. Since then the situation along the LoC has largely stabilized, although over the course of the week Azerbaijan reported four more dead in various shooting incidents. NKR confirmed several incidents, but denied there were casualties on the Armenian side.
In his interview, Mr. Mayilian noted that for more than eight years, the Azerbaijani side has been drawing its forward positions closer to those of Nagorno-Karabakh, thus reducing the neutral zone between the sides. The experience shows, he said, that the cease-fire is violated most frequently in places where the sides are located closest to each other (sometimes as close as a hundred yards).
Mr. Mayilian described the work of the OSCE group led by Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, which conducts monthly monitoring of the LoC as “necessary, but not sufficient” and urged Nagorno-Karabakh leaders to call for an expansion of Mr. Kasprzyk’s mission’s size and push for a pullback by Azerbaijani forces to positions they held as of May 1994 cease-fire.
On March 7, the Nagorno-Karabakh republic issued a statement condemning Azerbaijani provocations, stressing that the OSCE had failed to make an “adequate political assessment” of this behavior, warning that NKR would resort to “adequate and proportional” retaliatory measures, and placing responsibility for any possible escalation with the Azerbaijani government.
Later the same day, the mediators, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, issued a statement, calling on “the parties to restore confidence along the Line of Contact and desist from any further confrontations, escalation of violence or warmongering rhetoric.”
Notably the statement also called on the parties “to strictly abide by the provisions of the Arrangement on strengthening the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict of February 4, 1995.”
Former Russian mediator in the conflict Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov stressed the importance of that agreement – the only one signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and NKR since the cease-fire was established – in his interview with the Armenian Reporter, which appeared in the January 26, 2008 issue:
“The mechanism is as follows: As soon as there is an incident, the aggrieved side immediately contacts their opposites across the LoC and also informs the Minsk Group co-chairs,” Mr. Kazimirov recalled. “And the other side, within six hours of receiving the protest is mandated to investigate the incident and offer explanations. Both sides would then offer assurances that measures are taken to prevent further escalation. In other words the agreement would demand direct contacts between commanders in the field.”
Mr. Kazimirov regretted that for more than a decade the OSCE had not pushed for the agreement’s implementation.