The presidents of the United States, France and Russia pressed Armenia and Azerbaijan on Thursday to hammer out a framework agreement to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, warning that failure to do so soon would call into question their commitment to peace.
“We … are convinced the time has arrived for all the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step towards a peaceful settlement,” said a joint statement by Presidents Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 summit in the French resort of Deauville.
"We therefore call upon the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to demonstrate their political will by finalizing the Basic Principles [of a Karabakh settlement] during their upcoming summit in June,” the statement said.
“Further delay would only call into question the commitment of the sides to reach an agreement,” it added.
Obama, Sarkozy and Medvedev referred to “the latest version of the Basic Principles” which they said were discussed by Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan at their most recent meeting hosted by the Russian leader in Sochi in March. Medvedev is due to organize another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit next month.
Aliyev and Sarkisian said in the wake of the Sochi summit that it brightened prospects for the conflict’s resolution. However, the conflicting parities subsequently accused each of torpedoing the negotiating process.
Earlier this month, Sarkisian claimed that Azerbaijan is preparing for another war for the disputed territory. He also said that Baku and Yerevan have different interpretations of two key principles of international law that are at the heart of the proposed peace framework.
In a warning that seemed primarily addressed to the Azerbaijani leadership, the U.S., Russian and French presidents said attempts to end the Karabakh conflict by force would be condemned by the international community. "We strongly urge the leaders of the sides to prepare their populations for peace, not war," they said.
Obama, Sarkozy and Medvedev have already issued joint statements on Karabakh before, most recently during the G8 summit held in Canada in June last year. Their 2010 statement similarly said that Armenia and Azerbaijan should “take the next step and complete the work on the basic principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin.”