OSCE Minsk Group says Azerbaijan was first to open fire on 15 May
Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have declared that Azerbaijan was the first to open fire in the Karabakh conflict zone on 15 May.
“According to information collected from multiple reliable sources, on 15 May, Azerbaijani armed forces fired a missile across the Line of Contact, striking military equipment”, they said in a statement released on 18 May.
“On the evening of 16 May and continuing onto 17 May, Armenian armed forces retaliated with mortar fire of various calibres.”
“These actions by both sides represent significant violations of the ceasefire and are cause for alarm.”
As usual, the Co-Chairs condemned the ceasefire violations and called upon the sides to take all necessary measures to prevent any further escalation in the conflict zone.
It matters a lot that the Minsk Group has, for once, not beaten around the bush, but rather has pointed its finger at the side that was the first to strike, Armenians say.
“Armenia has always been the one to call upon the Minsk Group chairmen to punish ceasefire violators,” the country’s acting foreign minister Edward Nalbandyan said at a meeting with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, on 19 May.
“By turning down the idea of creating investigation mechanisms, Azerbaijan wants to dodge responsibility for its regular violations of the ceasefire. However, the extraordinary statement released by the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group on 18 May has been clear as to who is to blame now.”
Vahe Gugassyan of the Informed Citizens Union told online media outlet Lragir:
“Getting objective information from the line of contact in the conflict zone is crucial for resolution efforts … The Azerbaijani side doesn’t seem to be willing to let the OSCE Minsk Group deploy the mechanisms for investigating the violations, even though this is the only way to cut down on the number of bloody incidents on the border.”
“The armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan serve on what are Azerbaijan’s sovereign lands, they defend their country,” the spokesperson for the Azerbaijani foreign ministry Hikmet Gajiev said in response to the Minsk Group’s statement.
“It’s a pity and it’s a surprise, the shameless way the OSCE Minsk Group chairmen have said that the Armenian armed forces had to ‘return fire’ on 16 and 17 May. May I ask a question – what were the Armenian soldiers doing on lands that belong to Azerbaijan?”
“Until now this international structure and its chairmen have never spoken about the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenia and its patrons. One can assume that when they made the statement, the chairmen sought to express their support for the Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan or to garner favour with him.”
“Nearing the anniversary of the occupation of Lachin, the statement by the OSCE Minsk Group Chairmen may well be a sign of their disregard for a fair resolution of the conflict.”