By Emil Danielyan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a trilateral meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Friday to discuss details of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace accord proposed by Russia and other international mediators.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of a Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan just days after Lavrov described as “very real” chances of a near-term solution to the Karabakh conflict. In a newspaper interview published on Tuesday, he said the conflicting parties need to work out only “two or three unresolved issues,” including the future of the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia to the disputed region.
Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian was reported to comment ambiguously on Lavrov’s remarks after the Bishkek talks. “As regards statements that that key issues in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been agreed on, I have said and would like to repeat that the most important of those issues is Nagorno-Karabakh’s status, which should be determined by means of a free expression of the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s will,” Nalbandian told journalists, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
“And if there are views that the key issues have been solved, then one can conclude that there is mutual understanding on those issues,” he said without elaboration.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have been trying to get the parties to accept their proposed basic principles of Karabakh peace that envisage a gradual settlement of the dispute. The mediators hope that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet again and finalize the framework peace deal before the end of this year. Such a meeting would most probably take place after Azerbaijan’s October 15 presidential election, which the incumbent Aliev is widely expected to win.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry cited Nalbandian as saying that the peace process will enter “a more active phase” and that “it will be possible to organize new meetings” after the vote. It gave no details of Nalbandian’s talks with Lavrov and Azerbaijan’s Elmar Mammadyarov.
(Lavrov and Nalbandian meet in Yerevan on October 3.)