The Turkish prime minister offered his nation’s mediation in settling the protracted Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh as he held talks with the U.S. leader ahead of the South Korea-hosted Nuclear Security Summit last weekend.
The meeting between United States President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that took place in Seoul on Sunday reportedly focused on the current situation in Syria, but also addressed some other regional concerns, including the dispute in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkish newspapers quoted Erdogan as saying that while meeting with Obama he raised the Karabakh issue, suggesting that while Ankara was ready to try to boost negotiations by working with Azerbaijan, it expected the three main mediating powers, including the United States, to “step up pressure” on Armenia.
According to the newspaper Haberturk, the Turkish leader also said that during the meeting he raised the issue of the efficiency of the mediating work being conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, the main format co-headed by the United States, Russia and France that spearheads international efforts on brokering a solution to the long-running conflict. Erdogan, in particular, is quoted as saying that the group has been unable to find a way of settling the conflict for two decades now.
The White House did not immediately report on Obama’s discussion of Karabakh with Erdogan.
The remarks by Erdogan made ahead of the summit that was also to be attended by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian came shortly after the three mediating powers reiterated their call for a quick peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe issued a joint statement last week on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the OSCE Minsk Group, stressing that “any delay in reaching a settlement will only prolong the hardships” that the peoples of the region have suffered. They also reiterated the mediating powers’ strong opposition to possible attempts by either warring side to resolve the conflict by force, saying that it “would bring only more suffering to a region that has known uncertainty and insecurity for too long.”
Meanwhile, the Armenian president’s press office on Monday released Sarkisian’s message to the mediating powers’ leaders on the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Minsk Group’s establishment, in which he underscores the “tremendous work” that has been done by the group’s co-chairs in “bringing the parties’ positions closer together, developing the basic principles of settlement, relieving tensions and maintaining peace [in the conflict area]”.
Sarkisian also assured the leaders of the United States, Russia and France of Armenia’s interest in finding a solution to the Karabakh conflict and its commitment to having a continued “positive and constructive” involvement in the Minsk Group-mediated peace process.