By Armen Dilanian in Prague
The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan, accompanied by mediators of the OSCE Minsk Group met behind closed doors on Monday, July 29, near Prague, to continue discussions on the possible resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In the absence of any new meetings between the presidents of the two countries, the OSCE has sponsored talks between their representatives to continue exploring ways to resolve the 14 year-old conflict. The first of those meetings took place on May 14 and 15, at the same location near Prague. The representative of the Armenian president at the talks is Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Margarian. Araz Azimov represents the Azerbaijani side. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen representing the United States, Russia and France attended the talks that were originally sceduled to last two days.
However, after the first day of talks, the participants left the designated site near Prague, apparently to continue unofficial discussions in the Czech resort of Karlovy Vary. By late morning on Tuesday, the negotiators and the mediators had left the hotel where the talks had started on Monday. RFE/RL learned that at least part of the group was headed towards Karlovy Vary. The Russian Consul General in the western Bohemian town confirmed in the afternoon, that he had made lodging and other arrangements for the participants, but he was not certain if besides the Co-chairmen, the Armenian and the Azerbaijani negotiators were also coming. He told RFE/RL that he had arranged for bus transport in Karlovy Vary for all the participants.
On Monday, the negotiators strictly refused to talk to the media, upholding their pleadge to keep these negotiations completely behind closed doors. Our attempts to contact the group were unsuccessful. The US embassy in Prague told us that Ambassador Rudolf Perina representing the US in the Minsk Group is unavailable for comment and has already left Prague, but refused to verify if he went to Karlovy Vary.
The Armenian foreign ministry has also kept a total silenc. On Monday, the spokesperson of the ministry told RFE/RL that she cannot say anything about the details of the negotiations. The only comment from the Azerbaijani side came a few days before the Prague meeting was conevened. Nowruz Mamadov, a presidential staff memeber told Sharq news agency that Azerbaijan does not expect any progress at this stage of the negotiations.