By Emil Danielyan
International mediators are pressing for another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in January and stand a good chance of brokering its resolution next year, according to President Robert Kocharian.
Mediamax news agency on Friday quoted Kocharian as saying that the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will again tour the region next month in a bid to build on progress made by the conflicting parties over the past year.
“The mediators urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to meet in January 2006,” he told members of the Armenian community of Greece in Athens. “The co-chairmen are in hurry taking into consideration the fact that parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in Armenia in 2007 and 2008.”
“The elections in Azerbaijan have already passed. This means that 2006 will be free from election tensions and we can work actively,” Kocharian said, adding that he sees a “possibility of moving forward.”
OSCE officials have not ruled out the possibility of a peace accord being finalized by the end of this year or the beginning of the next. They have confirmed reports that Baku and Yerevan have made substantial progress towards a peaceful settlement. The peace process was effectively put on hold last month due to the November parliamentary election in Azerbaijan and constitutional referendum in Armenia.
According to Armenian sources privy to peace talks, the parties have been discussing a gradual resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would enable the Karabakh Armenians to decide the disputed region’s status at a future referendum. The Minsk Group troika has not denied this.
Kocharian spoke in Athens of an unspecified “favorable option for the conflict settlement.” “But it does not mean that we have set ourselves the task to achieve a settlement by all means in 2006 or 2007,” he added.
Kocharian’s most recent meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev took place in the Russian city of Kazan in late August.