International mediators have acknowledged progress made at the latest round of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, downplaying the “remaining differences” on the way towards reaching a framework agreement.
In a statement issued from Austrian capital Vienna on Tuesday, the United States, French and Russian co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group said that “although the sides did not reach final agreement on the Basic Principles at [talks in the Russian city of] Kazan, progress was made.”
“The outcome of Kazan, including confirmation by the sides that they will continue to seek a negotiated settlement, provides momentum that the parties should use to reach agreement on the Principles as soon as possible. The remaining differences should not prevent the sides from accepting the Basic Principles and moving on to the treaty-drafting phase of the peace process,” said Ambassadors Robert Bradtke of the United States, Bernard Fassier of France, and Igor Popov of Russia in their joint statement.
Contrary to international mediators’ expectations, at the June 24 talks hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, failed to resolve all of their remaining differences on the basic principles of a compromise settlement proposed by the United States, Russia and France. They reported, however, having reached a “mutual understanding on a number of issues whose resolution would help to create conditions for the approval of the basic principles.”
The U.S. State Department described the outcome of the Kazan summit as “disappointing”, while a leading Moscow daily, “Kommersant”, cited unnamed Kremlin officials as saying that Medvedev felt frustrated with the lack of decisive progress in at the peace talks.
By contrast, France sought to put an optimistic spin on the latest round of talks as its Foreign Ministry said last week that “the meeting in Kazan identified or confirmed several points of understanding, enabling [the parties] to continue negotiations on the present basis for the subsequent adoption of the principles of settlement proposed by the mediators.”
In a further development, Russian President Medvedev was said to have laid down his vision of a Karabakh settlement to both Armenia and Azerbaijan days after the Kazan summit.
In their latest statement the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs also reminded the parties to the conflict about the joint statement of the U.S., Russian and French leaders made from the G8 summit in the French resort town of Deauville on May 26 that “further delay only calls into question the commitment of the sides to reach an agreement.”
According to the statement, the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk met separately on July 4 with OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and with the Minsk Group “to discuss the status of the ongoing peace process to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
“The Co-Chairs briefed on the outcome of the June 24 meeting in Kazan… and they discussed the next steps required to finalize the Basic Principles as the framework for a comprehensive peace settlement,” the statement said.
The co-chairs also announced their plans “to hold consultations in Moscow and to visit the region in the near future.”