Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group

(OSCE) – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Richard Hoagland of the United States of America), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, traveled to Baku (March 11), Yerevan (March 27) and Nagorno-Karabakh (March 28).

The main purpose of the Co-Chairs’ visits to the region was to receive the most current detailed political and military information on the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, to discuss the implementation of agreements reached at 2016 Summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg and to address the next steps toward a settlement.

The Co-Chairs met with the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia and the de facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh. They also visited territories around Nagorno-Karabakh. In their talks, the Co-Chairs reiterated their deep concern over recent incidents along the Line of Contact, calling on the sides to exercise restraint in their rhetoric and in their actions. The Presidents laid out their positions on the Co-Chairs’ proposals to strengthen the ceasefire and to avoid further escalation of hostilities, particularly in light of the Novruz and Easter holidays. They expressed their commitment to continuing the negotiation process toward a political solution.

In their talks, the Co-Chairs stressed the essential importance of continued support for Ambassador Kasprzyk’s mission and its expansion. The Co-Chairs also emphasized their conviction that respect for the ceasefire is of the utmost importance for building an atmosphere of trust to enable further negotiations.

The Co-Chairs will soon travel to Vienna to brief the members of the Minsk Group.

OSCE Media Freedom Representative Urges Protection for Journalists Reporting on Civil Unrest in Armenia

(OSCE) – At the end of the siege of police headquarters in Yerevan, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today sought reassurance from the foreign minister of Armenia that journalists’ rights and safety during times of civil unrest would be protected.

Mijatović wrote to Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian indicating that the Government “should implement practical steps to ensure restraint on the part of law enforcement representatives toward members of the media and suggested steps should be taken by the authorities to guarantee that the press is not targeted by the police or thugs. The police should be protecting journalists and members of the media.”

According to reports, on July 29, media reporting on the forced dispersal of demonstrators in the Sari Tagh district and other events were attacked, beaten and had their equipment destroyed. In some cases the attackers were uniformed police; in others, civilians armed with metal rods.

Those attacked include:

  • reporter Aghvan Asoyan and camera operator Albert Galstyan from Armenia TV;
  • journalist Mariam Grigoryan and camera operator Davit Harutyunyan from Arajin Lratvakan;
  • reporters Karlen Aslanyan and Hovhannes Movsisyan and camera operator Garik Harutyunyan of Azatutyun;
  • reporter Robert Ananyan and camera operator Tigran Badalyan from A1+ TV;
  • camera operator Marut Vanyan from the Lragir.am news website;
  • journalists Sargis Kharazyan and Mkrtich Karapetyan from CivilNet;
  • reporter Hovik Grigoryan of Panorama.am; and
  • camera operator Tigran Gasparyan who works for Life.ru.

Mijatović also noted in the letter the statement published by the Armenian media NGOs on July 21 about the police attacks on journalists that took place in Yerevan days and weeks earlier. The victims included:

  • Gevorg Tosunyan, a journalist from iravaban.net;
  • Artak Hambardzumyan, a reporter from Azatutyun;
  • Arthur Hayrapetyan, a reporter from 4news.am; and
  • Tehmine Yenoqyan , a reporter from lragir.am.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments.

Photo Caption: OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović at the conference on shaping policies to advance media freedom on the Internet, Vienna, February 14, 2013. (Photo by Colin Peters)