By Armen Zakarian
On the first leg of their regional tour the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group met on Sunday with senior representatives of political parties presented in the Armenian parliament, including the leaders of opposition.
The meeting was held at the U.S embassy. Mher Shahgeldian, who attended the meeting as a representative of Orinats Yerkir party, told RFE/RL that the purpose of the meeting initiated by the co-chairs, was to “make clear” to everyone that delay in the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would bring no dividends to either party.
“They were also seeking better understanding of the positions and approaches of the policy makers and politicians who are able to influence the public opinion in Armenia”, Shahgeldian added.
Hrant Khachatrian, one of the leaders of the opposition, told FRE/RL that the mediators reiterated that they are not in a position to make proposals. “The Minsk Group can be helpful only in case Armenia and Azerbaijan put forward a joint proposal of the settlement.”
On Monday the co-chairs held talks with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian. They will leave for Stepanakert on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, the Russian co-chair Yuri Merzlyakov said he couldn’t unveil the content of the talks. He refused to elaborate on whether the agenda of the talks included also the issue of returning some of the Armenian controlled Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh. “But the presence of Armenian forces on the territory of Azerbaijan must be discussed”, he said.
“At this stage the consultations between co-chairs and Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign Ministers that have started in Prague are continuing”, Merzlyakov added. “This time we wanted also to compare our perception of the results of Prague consultations with the perception of the sides”.