Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe began
on Monday a first-ever international inspection of Armenian-controlled
Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh aimed at investigating Baku’s
allegations that they are being illegally populated with Armenians.
The fact-finding team led by a senior German Foreign Ministry official, Emily
Habber, and accompanied by the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE’s
Minsk Group visited the Kelbajar district west of Karabakh before arriving in
Stepanakert later in the day. They met there with Karabakh President Arkady
“We have heard many interesting details and I am confident that those details
will help us assess the situation correctly,” Habber told local journalists
afterward. She said the OSCE mission will spend ten days traveling around the
occupied lands and submit a report to the Minsk Group later on.
The fact-finding mission was sent to the region as a result of a compromise
agreement between the conflicting parties and the mediators that prevented a
vote in the UN General Assembly on an Azerbaijani draft resolution that
condemned the decade-long occupation of the seven Azerbaijani districts seen by
the Armenians as a vital buffer zone guaranteeing Karabakh’s security. The
resolution was endorsed by many Islamic nations but the United States, Russia
and France warned that it would hamper their peace efforts.
Meeting with the OSCE officials, Ghukasian again denied that his government is
encouraging the resettlement of Armenian families in those areas and said those
Armenians who have moved there since the 1994 ceasefire are mostly former
refugees from Azerbaijan. Ghukasian also urged the visitors to inspect
Azerbaijani-controlled areas of Karabakh that were formerly populated with
The OSCE delegation held talks with Azerbaijani officials in Baku before
traveling to Karabakh via Armenia.