September 05, 2006

Debate Over Fires In Nagorno-Karabakh Border Regions Rages On

According to the Interfax news agency (08.31.06), the OSCE's Acting Chairman's personal envoy, Andrzej Kaspsik, has called for greater cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia regarding the spate of fires along the Karabakh " LOC " (Line Of Contact). Mr. Kaspsik also stated that negotiations are presently underway to send a new team of experts to the region.

In a related news article, The Azeri-Press Information Agency (09.04.06) has reported that according to the Azeri Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, some 34,090 hectares of Azeri lands, now controlled by the Karabakh military, were destroyed by fires between June and August of this year.

Both sides along the Karabakh " LCO " offer differing theories as to how the fires are being started. While both Armenians and Azeris admit that fires in the region occur naturally every year, each accuses the other of deliberately setting the blazes by using tracer rounds and other incendiary ammunition.

OSCE monitors last visited the region in July 2006 to assess the situation. While the team was not able to get full access to the region due to several cross-border shooting incidents, their incomplete study concluded that they witnessed fire damage on both sides of the "LOC". In addition, the study remarked that due the intense heat and strong winds present at the time, the spread of naturally occurring fires was greater this year..


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