By Emil Danielyan
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met with international mediators in Paris on Tuesday to discuss ways of breaking the latest stalemate in their efforts to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, his office said on Wednesday.
A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Oskanian discussed with the French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group as well as a senior U.S. State Department official “possibilities of bringing the positions of the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides closer to each other and further steps in the negotiating process.” They also “evaluated the results” of the June 9 meeting in Saint Petersburg between Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian, the statement said.
The mediators hoped that the two leaders will pave the way for the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani framework agreement on Karabakh before the end of this year. The parties seemed to have agreed on most of the basic principles of a peaceful settlement proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs. However, Aliev and Kocharian failed to make further progress at Saint Petersburg, all but dashing hopes for the conflict’s resolution before presidential elections due in both Armenia and Azerbaijan next year.
Speaking in Washington on Monday, the group’s U.S. co-chair, Matthew Bryza, indicated that the mediators are still trying to achieve a breakthrough. “We're at a point in the negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh where the presidents need to make some serious decisions, some tough decisions,” he said. “They have shown political will.”
“Their ministers have shown political will and have taken the negotiations about as far as they can now go without presidents making the tough calls,” Bryza told a joint news conference of senior U.S. and Azerbaijani diplomats that followed an annual “security dialogue” between their nations.
Bryza also noted that the mediating powers favor a Karabakh settlement based on a “compromise” between the internationally recognized principles of the territorial integrity of states and peoples’ right to self-determination. “So while diplomats have to find some way to negotiate a compromise through those treacherous waters that is mutually acceptable and there's no universal formula, there's no worldwide accepted way to do that,” he said.
The framework peace accord put forward by the Minsk Group calls for a gradual resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would culminate in a referendum of self-determination in the disputed territory. Its predominantly Armenian population would almost certain vote for independence or reunification with Armenia.