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Baku Sees Stronger Push For Karabakh Peace After Azeri Vote


Russia -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Moscow, 21May2013

Russia -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Moscow, 21May2013

International efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should intensify after a presidential election in Azerbaijan due this fall, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said during a visit to Moscow on Tuesday.

The Karabakh issue was high on the agenda of Mammadyarov’s talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, with both men stressing the need to change the status quo in the conflict at an ensuing joint news conference.

“[Presidential] elections have already taken place in Armenia, and they will be held in Azerbaijan at the end of this year, and I think that it will be necessary to redouble our efforts so that there is progress in this difficult but solvable conflict,” the Azerbaijani minister said.

Mammadyarov travelled to Moscow three days after holding fresh talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward and international mediators in Krakow, Poland. The U.S., Russian and French mediators said they discussed “possible ways to advance the peace process” but reported few other details.

Mammadyarov downplayed the significance of the talks, saying that the Karabakh peace process remains effectively deadlocked. “No concrete issues have been discussed in the last one and a half years despite meetings of the [foreign] ministers,” he said.

The conflicting parties continue to disagree on the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. They appear to have made no progress towards bridging their differences since a key Armenian-Azerbaijani summit that was hosted by Russia’s former President Dmitry Medvedev in Kazan in June 2011. The summit ended in failure contrary to the mediators’ high expectations.

According to Lavrov, Armenia supported a framework peace accord proposed by the mediators in 2007, while Azerbaijan preferred a different version of the Basic Principles drafted in 2009. He said Medvedev tried to broker a compromise formula acceptable to both sides during more than a dozen face-to-face meetings of his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts organized by him.

“We did not manage to reach agreements at that stage,” the Russian minister said. “But we noted with Mr. Mammadyarov today a convergence of our views that those meetings were highly useful for clarifying details in which, as you know, the devil lies.”

In remarks clearly addressed to Baku, Lavrov also insisted that the status quo is unacceptable to not only Azerbaijan but also Armenia, Russia and the other mediating powers. “It’s wrong to make hasty evaluations to the effect that since things are stagnant now nothing will work out,” he said. “I believe that everything will work out if we try to look for compromises taking into account legitimate interests of the parties.”
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