By Hrach Melkumian
This week’s meeting in Poland between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan increased chances of a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Friday.
“The president of Armenia believes that this meeting can really contribute to finding common ground for the basis of negotiations at further meetings,” Oskanian said of Tuesday’s talks between Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliev.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of a European economic summit in Warsaw. It was their second face-to-face encounter since Aliev succeeded his late father and predecessor Heydar last October.
According to Oskanian, they agreed to meet again in the near future and to arrange more talks between their foreign ministers in the meantime. Oskanian is scheduled to meet with Azerbaijan’s recently appointed Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov in Strasbourg from May 12-13.
“There will be clear instructions from the presidents to the foreign ministers regarding putting the negotiations on a certain basis. So we see positive movement and believe that there will be a continuation,” he said.
Armenia has stated repeatedly that the only way to break the deadlock in Karabakh peace talks is to revive agreements reportedly reached by Kocharian and Heydar Aliev three years ago. Azerbaijan denies the existence of such agreements, however.
Speaking in Strasbourg on Thursday, Ilham Aliev advocated a phased settlement of the conflict that would involve the return of Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh before an agreement on the disputed region’s status is reached. Mamedyarov echoed the comments in Baku on Friday, saying that the idea is actually being discussed with the Armenians.
"We are discussing various ideas, including the option of opening the railway with Armenia in exchange for it pulling back from the seven districts of Azerbaijan it has occuppied," he said, according to AFP. “The subject of our negotiations right now is how ready the sides are to make compromises.”
The Armenian side has insisted, at least until now, on a “package solution” that would resolve all contentious issues in a single peace accord.