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Russia, EU Urge Progress in Karabakh Peace Talks


Russia -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian (archive photo)

Russia -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian (archive photo)

Russia has again called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree on some basic principles as a way to start resolving their longstanding dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. A similar call has been heard from the European Union as well.

After Wednesday talks with his Armenian counterpart in Moscow that reportedly lasted for about an hour, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed Russia’s commitment to the joint statement of the conflict mediating powers, also including the United States and France, that Yerevan and Baku must hammer out a framework agreement or face questions regarding their commitment to peace.

“Today this process has reached the final stage, in fact, it is time for making decisions,” stressed Lavrov.

Talks between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan hosted by President Dmitry Medvedev in the Russian city of Kazan late last month failed to produce a deal. Instead, it ended in a statement that the parties had reached “a mutual understanding on a number of issues whose resolution would help to create conditions for the approval of the basic principles.”

“This creates prerequisites for agreement around the basic principles,” said Lavrov, adding that President Medvedev, acting with the support of the other two mediating powers, the United States and France, has “analyzed the situation created after the Kazan summit and will soon make a decision about further steps.”

The Russian minister also reminded the sides about their commitment to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh exclusively by means of negotiations.

Belgium -- High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton talks during a press conference following a General Affairs Council, 21Feb2011
Meanwhile, a European Union representative has also called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to reach an agreement soon.

Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, spoke on Nagorno-Karabakh at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

She welcomed the fact that both parties have “re-committed themselves to the diplomatic process and to finding a peaceful solution.”

“But we need to see more than that in the coming months. The parties need to redouble their efforts to find an agreement before the end of this year. This would then happen before domestic priorities take over in 2012: elections in Armenia in 2012, and in Azerbaijan in 2013,” said Ashton.

Earlier, the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, the principal international format for brokering a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, urged the sides to use ‘the momentum’ of the outcome of the Kazan meeting “to reach agreement on the principles as soon as possible.”

In their joint July 5 statement the international mediators also stressed that “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.”
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