By Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Friday that he and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov failed to set a date for the next, potentially decisive Armenian-Azerbaijani summit on Nagorno-Karabakh during talks in Strasbourg the previous night.
The two men met in the presence of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the sidelines of a regular session of the Council of Europe’s decision-making Committee of Ministers. The American, French and Russian mediators hope than another face-to-face meeting between Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian will yield a breakthrough in the Karabakh peace process.
A Kocharian spokesman said earlier this month that the meeting’s venue and exact date is likely to be agreed by Mammadyarov and Oskanian at Strasbourg. However, this clearly did not happen, with Oskanian explaining that Baku and Yerevan have not yet laid the groundwork for the crucial summit.
“Discussions focused on the proposals and ideas that have been on the table,” he told RFE/RL by phone, referring to the Strasbourg talks. “Overall, it was not a bad meeting. However, there are still many issues that have not yet been agreed on.”
Oskanian went on to indicate that the Aliev-Kocharian encounter might therefore not take place at all. “While not ruling out the possibility of such a meeting at this point, I can’t say for certain that it will take place because a lot depends on the co-chairs’ high-level visit to the region.”
In a further sign of the seriousness of their intentions, the co-chairs will begin the visit on May 25 together with more high-ranking diplomats, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried and Russian Deputy Foreign Minster Grigory Karasin. The mediators will discuss with the conflicting parties their new unpublicized peace proposals put forward following the collapse of the last Aliev-Kocharian meeting that took place in Rambouillet, France in February.
“The co-chairs see a new momentum after Rambouillet and they believe that by raising the level [of their diplomacy] they can attract more attention and will try during their visit to create a situation that will convince the parties to agree to a meeting of the presidents,” said Oskanian.