There can be no alternative to direct communication between Baku and representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh, EU Special Representative in the South Caucasus ToivoKlaar statedin his comments to NEWS.am regarding the prospects of negotiations between Stepanakert and Baku.
“The commencement of direct and visible discussions between Baku and representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh is a step in the right direction and as such should be commended. There can be no alternative to direct communication when it comes to addressing differences, which must be done exclusively through negotiations between all relevant stakeholders. Such dialogue should aim at building trust and confidence, rather than fuelling confrontation. We urge all stakeholders to refrain from negative rhetoric and to focus on the search for compromise solutions which would address the legitimate concerns of all,”Klaar stated.
On March 13, the Foreign Ministry of Nagorno Karabakh issued a statement in response to the the Office of the President of Azerbaijan “inviting the representatives of the Armenian community of Karabakh to Baku to hold a second meeting in continuation ofcontacts on reintegration”. The Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Ministry stated. “We reiterate that the Republic of Artsakh is committed to its previously stated position that such meetings can be held with the mediation of the Russian Peacekeeping Contingent, in the same venue as on 1 March 2023, to discuss humanitarian, infrastructural and technical issues, without undue politicization.” As for the political issues of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict settlement, the Foreign Ministry stressed, the negotiations should be held within an agreed and internationally recognized format, with international guarantees for equal rights of the parties and implementation of assumed obligations.
Nagorno Karabakh National Assembly Factions on the same day stressed that given Azerbaijan's ongoing actions "talks about direct dialogue are unacceptable".
EU Special Representative in the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar also expressed concern over the “ceasefire violations” and called for full restoration of free movement through the Lachin corridor.
“Following the deadly incident 10 days ago, recent reports of frequent ceasefire violations along the line of contact and the international border remain a cause for concern. The EU strongly urges restraint in order to prevent any further escalation. Violence and coercive measures cannot be an option when working towards dialogue and the normalization of relations. As repeated on several occasions, the EU also reiterates its call for the full restoration of freedom and security of movement through the Lachin corridor, and for gas and electricity supplies as well as telecommunications services to Karabakh to continue uninterrupted,”Klaar stated.
The Lachin Corridor has been blocked by self-proclaimed Azerbaijani eco-activists since December 12 last year, resulting in humanitarian crisis for 120,000 people living in Nagorno Karabakh. The Defence Ministry of NKR has been reporting on growing cases of ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan recently. On March 5, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces infiltrated the territory of Nagorno Karabakhto kill 3 police officers of Nagorno Karabakh, and leave 1 wounded. Stepanakert said it was an ambush attack, while Yerevan called it an act of terrorism.