By Harry Tamrazian in Prague and Karine Kalantarian
International mediators believe that they may still succeed in brokering a framework peace agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh in the coming months, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said after meeting them in Paris on Tuesday.
“They believe that it is still possible to make some additional progress before the end of this year or before our parliamentary elections [due early next year] at the latest,” he told RFE/RL by phone after two days of negotiations with the American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Oskanian described the talks as “very good and effective” but gave few details, saying only that they focused on ways of reinvigorating the Karabakh peace process, which ran into trouble this summer after substantial progress reportedly made by the conflicting parties. The mediators are trying to arrange a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers for that purpose, he said, adding that it might take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.
The co-chairs, among them U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, are scheduled to hold similar talks with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in London on Wednesday. “The results [of their efforts] can be assessed only after their meeting with the Azerbaijani foreign minister and, if there is agreement, after the two ministers’ meeting,” said Oskanian.
The latest round of Minsk Group diplomacy began amid talk of yet another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit on Karabakh that could be held on the sidelines of a CIS summit in Belarus slated for October 16. A spokesman for President Robert Kocharian did not rule the possibility of such an encounter on Tuesday. “But before it can happen, there must be a meeting of the foreign ministers,” Victor Soghomonian told RFE/RL.
“Only after the ministers meet and clarify whether there is a chance to continue negotiations and make further progress will it be possible to talk about a meeting of the presidents,” agreed Oskanian.
Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev have already met twice this year in unsuccessful attempts to agree on a framework peace accord put forward by the mediators. The proposed deal calls for a gradual settlement of the Karabakh conflict that would culminate in a referendum on the disputed region’s status.