Azerbaijan on Friday welcomed the latest U.S., French and Russian calls for a quick solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and again accused Armenia of dragging out peace negotiations.
A senior aide to President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said Baku shares the sense of urgency of the three mediating powers. They claimed that Thursday’s joint statement by Presidents Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev heightened pressure on Armenia, denying claims to the contrary made by official Yerevan.
“It follows from the statement that Armenia must start the withdrawal of its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies.
“Unfortunately … Armenia continues to drag out that process and thereby impede the conflict’s peaceful resolution,” it said.
“As a matter of fact, the negotiating process has dragged on because of the Armenian side,” Novruz Mammadov, Aliyev’s chief foreign policy adviser, told Day.az.
In their joint statement issued during the G8 summit in Deauville, France, Obama, Sarkozy and Medvedev urged Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian to finalize a framework agreement on Karabakh at their fresh meeting expected next month. The three leaders specifically referred to “the latest version of the Basic Principles” of a peaceful settlement which Aliyev and Sarkisian discussed at their last summit hosted by Medvedev in March.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said late on Thursday that the principles drafted by the U.S., French and Russian mediators are mostly acceptable to the Armenian side. He said further progress in the peace process depends on their “unequivocal” acceptance by Baku.
Both the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry and Mammadov dwelled on only one element of the proposed settlement: the liberation of seven districts in Azerbaijan proper that surround Karabakh. They did not mention other provisions such as a future referendum on the status of the disputed territory mainly populated by Armenians.
The Foreign Ministry statement only spoke of “determining the future status of that region within Azerbaijan.”
Armenian officials insist, however, that the referendum advocated by the mediators would enable the Karabakh Armenians to eventually gain international recognition of their secession from Azerbaijan.