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Peacekeepers may be deployed in Karabakh only after political settlement — diplomat

A peacekeeping mission in the area of the Karabakh conflict may be possible only after a political settlement is achieved there, Russia's Ambassador to OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday.

"The measures of supporting trust between the parties in the region of the Karabakh conflict is a key task after the ceasefire regime comes into force," he said.

Speaking about a peacekeeping element in the conflict area, he said the "conflict in Nagorno Karabakh is an exclusive responsibility of OSCE, and all other organisations may only favour efforts of that organization."

"The ideas of a peacekeeping mission, which may be possible only after a political settlement for supporting peace in the region, have been outlined a certain time ago," he said. "A group of military planning, which unites experts, has put together parameters for a possible peacekeeping mission."

"What it will be like, in what formats - as yet those are only areas on the maps, where experts show how the peacekeeping mission's shape could look like," the Russian diplomat said. "If it comes to that, it would be historic experience for OSCE. However, this all is in theory now."

He said it would be more important now to enforce the monitoring teams in the area to fix how ceasefire is observed along the line of engagement.

Overnight to April 2, hostilities erupted on the line disengaging warring sides in Nagorno-Karabakh. Later, the parties to the conflict accused each other of the ceasefire violations. On Tuesday, chiefs of Armenian and Azeri Armed Forces' General Staffs reached an agreement to cease fire at 11.00 Moscow time (08.00 am UTC) on April 5.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was the first zone of inter-ethnic tensions and violence to appear on the map of the former USSR.

Even almost a quarter of a century after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Karabakh remains a so-called 'frozen conflict' on the post-Soviet space, as the region is the subject of a dispute between Azerbaijan and the local Armenian population that draws on strong support from fellow-countrymen in neighboring Armenia.

In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the government in Baku and Armenian residents, which resulted in the region's de facto independence. In 1994, a ceasefire was reached, but the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia remain strained ever since then.

Russia, France and the U.S. co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which attempts to broker an end to hostilities and the conflict.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 08Apr16]

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