By Harry Tamrazian
International mediators have all but dispelled Armenian concerns about the United Nations’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process sought by Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said after meeting them late Tuesday.
Speaking to RFE/RL from New York, he confirmed shunning his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in retaliation for the Karabakh issue’s inclusion on the UN General Assembly. The two men were due to meet in the presence of the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on the sidelines of the assembly’s ongoing session.
“The meeting [with Mammadyarov] was cancelled at our initiative because we found it necessary to clarify the situation to see what possible developments might unfold there,” he said. “This is what was done at my meeting [with the co-chairs].
“In that sense, I am satisfied with explanations given to me. We now have a better idea of the situation and will make an appropriate decisions as to what our next steps are.”
Oskanian added that Yerevan still has some unanswered questions regarding the UN’s role in the peace process and expects the mediators to address them in the coming weeks. “I can say for sure that there will be more separate meetings with the co-chairs,” he said. “I don’t rule out their visit to the region. Also possible -- and desirable -- is the resumption of direct negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan both at the ministerial and presidential levels.”
Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian plan to attend a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States which is scheduled to take place in Belarus next month. Officials in Baku and Yerevan have not ruled out the possibility of their encounter on the fringes of the summit.
Addressing the General Assembly on Monday, Mammadyarov cited Oskanian’s refusal to meet him as proof of Armenia’s failure to take a “constructive approach to solve existing problems.” He charged that the Armenians are defying international norms by insisting on international recognition of the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination.
But according to the Armenian side, that right is at the heart of the Minsk Group’s existing peace plan which envisages that Karabakh’s status will determined by the disputed territory’s population in a referendum. Oskanian again claimed that Azerbaijan “seems to be constantly trying to renounce” the idea. The only way out of the deadlock is to “revive the Minsk Group document and force Azerbaijan not to renege on its pledges,” he said.
“My meeting with the co-chairs was quite productive,” said Oskanian. “There are some positive movements. We will decide our next steps upon our return to Yerevan.”