The United States and Russia have renewed their calls for the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to cut a long-awaited peace deal on Nagorno-Karabakh at their meeting in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday.
“I would just respond by saying that there’s an opportunity here and that they should seize this opportunity to peacefully resolve their differences,” Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, told a news briefing in Washington late on Wednesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement on Thursday saying that the Kazan summit, which will be hosted by President Dmitry Medvedev, is “meant to serve as a milestone in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.”
“We expect Baku and Yerevan to respond constructively to the joint communiqué issued on May 26 in Deauville by the presidents of the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group -- the Russian Federation, the United States and France,” it said.
The three presidents urged their Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to finalize the basic principles of the conflict’s resolution put forward by the mediating powers. They warned that failure to do so at Kazan would raise questions about the conflicting parties’ commitment to peace.
“The document that will be considered in Kazan is the result of an important period of joint work done by the parties and the co-chair countries and represents a real basis for further progress and the subsequent preparation of a comprehensive peace accord,” read the Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
“We hope that on that basis the parties will reach an agreement in the interests of peace, prosperity and the development of the entire region,” it said.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan say that the proposed settlement is largely acceptable to them. Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday that the Kazan summit should be a success unless Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev voices last-minute objections to the basic principles.
“Azerbaijan already announced the acceptance [of the basic principles] as a basis for negotiations several years ago,” Aliyev said, for his part. “We hope that Armenia will follow suit.”