By Ruben Meloyan
International mediators expressed hope on Tuesday that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet again soon and make further progress towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group spoke in Yerevan before proceeding to Baku where they already held talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev at the start of their latest round of regional shuttle diplomacy late last week.
“We hope that the two presidents can meet again in the coming months,” Bernard Fassier, the group’s French co-chair, told a news conference. “This means we are going to Baku with positive feelings.”
Fassier declined to specify possible dates for what would be Aliev’s fourth face-to-face meeting with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian in less than a year. “Let us first present our proposed dates for the meeting to the presidents so they can decide,” he said.
Aliev and Sarkisian most recently met in Zurich, Switzerland in late January. The mediators gave a positive assessment of the talks in a subsequent statement. They said they hope that the conflicting parties will finalize an agreement on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by them “in the nearest future.”
One possible occasion for the next Aliev-Sarkisian encounter is a European Union summit in Prague scheduled for May 7. EU leaders are expected to formally launch the bloc’s so-called Eastern Partnership program of closer ties with six former Soviet republics, including Armenia and Azerbaijan.