“There was no breakthrough at Kazan because Azerbaijan proved unprepared to accept the latest version of the basic principles [of the conflict’s resolution] proposed by the three co-chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group,]” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said after the talks on Friday night.
Speaking to journalists, Nalbandian said that Aliyev presented “about a dozen changes” in the basic principles which were unacceptable for the Armenian side represented by President Serzh Sarkisian. He did not specify those changes.
Official Baku did not explicitly deny these claims, with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov saying later on Saturday that Yerevan rejected an earlier version of the basic principles that were first formally submitted to the two sides in Madrid in 2007.
“For some reason, the Armenian side was silent when Azerbaijani announced the acceptance of an updated version of the Madrid document that was officially presented by the [OSCE] Minsk Group co-chairs in Athens in 2009,” Mammadyarov said, according to the Trend news agency. “It is now talking about one of the many versions of a working document based on the updated Madrid document.”
Finland - (L-r) Foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia Elmar Mammadyarov, Edward Nalbandian at the 16th OSCE Ministerial Council, Helsinki, 04Dec2008. (Petri Krook)
Mammadyarov claimed that the Kazan meeting failed to live up to expectations because “the Armenian side requires maximum concessions from Azerbaijan.” Nonetheless, he did say that he “got the impression” that both the Armenian and Azarbaijani presidents intend to continue “working intensively” toward finding a definitive solution.
While in Kazan, both Aliyev and Sarkisian also held separate meetings with U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the Minsk Group. Their offices reported no details of those discussions.
Speaking at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Sarkisian sounded cautiously optimistic about the success of his upcoming talks with Aliyev. But he warned of last-minute Azerbaijani objections to the proposed settlement.
The conflicting parties have been under strong international pressure to iron out their differences on the basic principles. In a joint statement issued on May 26, the U.S., Russian and French presidents warned that failure to do so at Kazan would call into question about their stated commitment to peace.
President Barack Obama telephoned Aliyev and Sarkisian ahead of the Russian-mediated summit to “strongly encourage” them to hammer out a peace accord that would have profound implications for the entire region.
“Over the past year the scenario whereby Azerbaijan comes up with new changes and proposals has been repeated for at least four times,” claimed Nalbandian.
“But we will continue negotiations because there is no other way of achieving a settlement,” he said. “The problem can be solved only peacefully, by means of negotiations.”
Nalbandian insisted that the Kazan meeting, hosted and mediated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was “useful” in that regard. “The important thing is that President Medvedev, who has made a big contribution to this process in the last three years, expressed his readiness to continue his efforts at agreeing the principles and reaching a final accord on them,” he said.