By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia and Azerbaijan appear to have agreed to avoid another war of words on Nagorno-Karabakh at a high-level conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which opens in Portugal on Friday, officials in Yerevan said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Vilayat Guliev, are expected to include mutually acceptable language on the Karabakh conflict in a concluding declaration of the two-day gathering.
Sources in the Armenian Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL that the matter was discussed at the November 14 meeting in Vienna of the Armenian and Azerbaijani deputy foreign ministers, Tatul Markarian and Araz Azimov. The two officials also act as their presidents’ personal Karabakh negotiators.
Sources said the two sides will likely suggest a vague reference to their unresolved conflict which will call for its peaceful resolution based on mutual concessions and will not contradict their respective positions on the issue.
The OSCE Committee of Ministers regularly mentions the Karabakh dispute among key challenges facing European security at its annual gatherings. The meeting in the Portuguese city of Porto will not be an exception.
Baku and Yerevan have often used the OSCE meetings as well as other international forums to trade accusations of violating international law and opposing regional peace. Azerbaijan has been especially vocal in denouncing “Armenian aggression.”
The conflicting parties may now be interested in avoiding yet another diplomatic spat that would further heighten tensions ahead of next year’s presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Meeting in Prague late last month, Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev effectively ruled out a Karabakh breakthrough before the polls, but stressed that their continuing face-to-face contacts facilitate the peace process.
While in Porto, Oskanian will meet with the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Diplomats do not rule out the possibility of a separate meeting with Turkey’s new foreign minister, Yasar Yakir.