Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership sought on Tuesday to downplay fresh talks between Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers which are expected to be held in New York this week.
Robert Bradtke, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, said last week that Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss “new ideas” proposed by the American, French and Russian mediators.
Bradtke told BBC’s Azerbaijani service that the mediators expect “some progress” at the talks. “We expect constructive steps from the sides in terms of advancing the peace process,” he said.
But a spokesman for Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian sounded far more pessimistic about the New York meeting. “Such meetings are important for maintaining the negotiating process but we don’t expect any breakthrough, any serious progress,” Davit Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service from Stepanakert. “What is happening in Azerbaijan give us no reason to expect any constructive steps from Azerbaijan.”
Babayan also said that the Karabakh Armenians have still not formally agreed to a fact-finding trip to Armenian-controlled territories around the disputed enclave planned by the mediators. He said they should also inspect areas of Karabakh controlled by Azerbaijani forces.
“That could be done simultaneously or next year,” added the Karabakh official. “But if that doesn’t happen, that mission will become meaningless. Having said that, we are not afraid of such missions. Let them come and see that these territories are an inseparable part of Artsakh and will remain as such.”
The basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the Minsk Group call for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all districts in Azerbaijan proper that were occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993.