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Armenian-Azeri Talks Still On Hold


By Emil Danielyan
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has come away from a meeting with international mediators without an agreement on the next round of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks on Nagorno-Karabakh that was abruptly cancelled earlier this month, an official said on Thursday.

The uncertainty raises more questions about motives for the postponement of Oskanian’s meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov which had been scheduled to take place in Prague on March 2. The official reason for the delay was Oskanian’s illness.

Oskanian said on March 4 that a new date for the potentially crucial meeting will be set “in the coming days.” He was in Vienna on Tuesday, discussing the peace process with the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group.

“The new dates for the Prague negotiations are still not known,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamlet Gasparian, told RFE/RL.

Gasparian referred all inquiries regarding reasons for the longer-than-expected delay to the Minsk Group. “They are the ones who organize the negotiations,” he said.

The cancelled meeting was supposed to continue a series of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks held in the Czech capital since last summer. Mammadyarov and Oskanian announced in January the second stage of the so-called “Prague process” which raised fresh hopes for breaking the deadlock in the Karabakh peace process.

Armenian newspapers critical of President Robert Kocharian have alleged that Yerevan is deliberately dragging out the process in order to avoid signing a new peace plan put forward by the Minsk Group. They claim that the mediators want Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev to meet and sign it this May.

Speaking with journalists in Baku on Saturday, Aliev did not rule out the possibility of an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit but said it must be preceded by a meeting between the foreign ministers.
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