By Aza Babayan in Moscow
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in London next week to discuss new proposals on Nagorno-Karabakh put forward by international mediators, a senior Russian diplomat said on Tuesday.
Yuri Merzlyakov, the Russian co-chair of the OSCE’s Minsk Group, told RFE/RL that Vartan Oskanian and Elmar Mammadyarov may also agree a date for a meeting of the two countries’ presidents which he said is essential for further progress in the peace process. “The parties seem to have reached a point where a meeting of the presidents should give a new impetus to the negotiations,” he said.
Mammadyarov announced last week that his fresh talks with Oskanian, originally scheduled for March 2, will take place on April 15. The Armenian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Oskanian will travel to London to meet with the Minsk Group’s French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs. But it said a face-to-face encounter with his Azerbaijani counterpart has yet to be confirmed.
Merzlyakov acknowledged that the London talks will determine whether Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian will meet in Warsaw on the sidelines of the May 15-16 summit of the Council of Europe member countries. The mediators hope that they will discuss and present their opinion on the new peace proposals, he said.
“The co-chairs believe that a political decision is required at the highest level,” he said. “It is possible that they will not agree to our proposals and will suggest something else.”
The Russian diplomat refused to reveal those proposals, saying that they require major concessions from both conflicting parties. “The co-chairs of the Minsk Group have always said that public opinion needs to be prepared for agreement and to be told that mutual concessions are inevitable,” he said.
The new Minsk Group plan is likely to be based on the so-called step-by-step strategy of resolving the Karabakh dispute which would take at least a decade.