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OSCE to Monitor Ceasefire in Karabakh Conflict Zone

RIA Novosti

02:28 12/09/2012

YEREVAN, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will on Wednesday check the way a ceasefire is being observed on the contact line between the armed forces of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, the unrecognized republic’s Foreign Ministry reported.

The predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed independence from Azerbaijan in the late 1980s, triggering a bloody conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994. The region has since remained under Armenian control.

There have been an increasing number of shootouts along the line of contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, as well as at the border between the two states.

The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising the United States, Russia and France, mediates the conflict.

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been further aggravated by the extradition and subsequent pardoning of Azerbaijani serviceman Ramil Safarov, who killed an Armenian serviceman eight years ago.

Safarov had been serving a life sentence with a possibility of parole only after 25 years for killing an Armenian soldier during a NATO training event in Hungary's capital Budapest in 2004. He attacked Gurgen Margaryan with an ax as the Armenian slept, striking him an alleged 16 times.

In August, Hungary extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, greeted as a national hero and promoted to the rank of major. Hungary said it had agreed to return Safarov to Azerbaijan after receiving assurances that his sentence would be enforced.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said earlier in September he hopes tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the pardoned killer would not affect the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

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