By Armen Zakarian
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian is scheduled to leave for Vienna tomorrow morning to meet with international negotiators for Nagorno Karabakh after they, despite expectations, did not pay a visit to Yerevan while on a region trip.
The OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen were in the region late last month to participate in the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and their visit to Armenia was widely expected by the local political circles.
It later transpired that no such visit had been on the cards and that Oskanian could meet the cochairmen abroad.
Unusually little information is unveiled about the planned visit and the agenda of Oskanian’s meeting, while the minister, who is known to always find the way to inform the press if he has something to say, this time is obviously reluctant to share his plans.
It is only announced that Oskanian’s meeting with the cochairmen in Vienna will be followed by his trip to Washington where the minister will stay until June 10.
Incidentally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will be in the American capital during the same period.
It is yet not known whether Armenia’s top diplomat will meet either of them.
But at least the schedule of Oskanian’s official visits announced for June had no mention of any meetings planned with Turkish leaders.
Oskanian is due to meet with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov on June 18.
Expectations from this meeting are yet uncertain. A few days ago Oskanian said that there is little but progress after the Kocharian-Aliev meeting and that there are opportunities for further work. towards “peace”.
Meanwhile, Azeri sources quote their Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov as saying that the Paris meeting will discuss the issues outlined in Prague on January 11.
Since that time there was much development in the process.
First the process was transferred to London where the foreign ministers had meetings with the cochairmen in different rooms of the U.S. Embassy and did not meet each other.
The Frankfurt meeting announced later fell through because Oskanian did not arrive.
After the meeting in Warsaw, where some agreements were reportedly reached, the Azeri side continued to speak about a range of issues that the Armenian side does not show eagerness to negotiate.
Araz Azimov claims that the Prague negotiations focused on the so-called “stage-by-stage” settlement, which implies the withdrawal of Karabakh troops from seven regions, a return of refugees and determination of Nagorno Karabakh’s status.