Hrach Melkumian in Gumri, Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Top Russian mediator of the Nagorno-Karabakh Peace talks Nikolay Gribkov said on Sunday the Karabakh Geneva peace talks could be postponed. "There is no need to hold meeting just for its own sake", the Russian diplomat said. Nikolay Gribkov made these comments in the Armenian northern region, where the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs arrived today in a fact-finding mission. The helicopter with US, French and Russian diplomats Carey Cavanaugh, Philippe de Suremain and Nikolay Gribkov on board, landed today in the northern Armenian town of Spitak, where many ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan took refuge after fleeing Armenian-Azeri war.
The US, French and Russian mediators arrived in Armenia from Stepanakert. As reported by Reuters news agency, Flak-jacketed mediators on Saturday crossed for the first time a de-mined path through the "Line of Control" which separates opposing forces. The Karabakh mediators met today with the refugees and the residents of Spitak, which was devastated by the powerful earthquake in December 1988.The Karakakh mediators were trying to explain to refugees the economic benefits of the peace.
The international mediators visited also the railroad station Akhurian, which is only two kilometers away from Turkish border. Akhurian is a major railroad junction that connects Armenia with Turkey. The first rail shipment from Turkey crossed Akhurian in 1993. The station was closed in July 1993. The Governor of Shirak region Felix Pirumian said the Akhurian railway station will be ready for the resumption of rail traffic between Armenia and Turkey after minor reconstruction. US mediator Carey Cavanaugh said that Turkey was interested in opening the railroad connection with Armenia, but the Karabakh conflict prevented the move.
US negotiator Carey Cavanaugh’s comments on the possible progress in the peace talks were also less optimistic. "We are probably not as close now as at the end of Key West, because both sides are looking at things more closely," he said. But the US diplomat said that it was not a surprise for him. Tomorrow the OSCE mediators will meet with the Armenian President in Yerevan.