By Emil Danielyan
The United States, Russia and France have made changes in their proposed basic principles of a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement in hopes of facilitating their acceptance by Armenia and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said on Friday.
The so-called Madrid principles were formally put forward by the mediators in November 2007 and are still being discussed by the conflicting parties.
“In order to achieve a new phase of the settlement, the foreign ministers of the countries co-chairing the OSCE’s Minsk Group have presented the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with certain changes in the Madrid proposals,” Mammadyarov said, according to the Day.az news service. He did not specify those changes.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment on this.
Mammadyarov spoke to journalists in Helsinki where he was attending an annual high-level meeting of the OSCE along with his Armenian counterpart, Eduard Nalbandian. The two men held talks there on Wednesday and had a brief conversation with Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Bernard Kouchner of France as well as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried the next day.
In an ensuing joint declaration, Lavrov, Kouchner and Fried urged the parties to “finalize the Basic Principles in coming months.” The mediating powers hope that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet again soon to iron out their remaining differences on the framework peace accord. Matthew Bryza, Fried’s deputy and the Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair, expressed hope on Thursday that the meeting will take place “in a couple of weeks.”
Mammadyarov said, however, that Presidents Ilham Aliev and Serzh Sarkisian will hold the next round of their face-to-face talks only “next year.” Aliev and Sarkisian pledged to intensify the search for a mutually acceptable compromise in a declaration which they signed with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev after talks outside Moscow on November 2.
In a speech at the OSCE meeting on Friday, Nalbandian accused Azerbaijan of “misinterpreting” key provisions of the declaration. He pointed to Aliev’s recent remark that the declaration’s reference to a “political settlement” of the Karabakh conflict does not commit Azerbaijan to non-use of force.