Armenia and Azerbaijan agree on the importance of renewed meetings between their presidents for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict despite their failure to arrange such a summit last month, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Monday.
Nalbandian said this was a key focus of his latest talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov that took place in Vienna on Friday.
The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group also attended the talks. In a joint statement issued over the weekend, the mediators said they discussed ways of “creating conditions for a meeting at the highest levels later this year.” “The Co-Chairs will coordinate closely with the sides to develop next steps,” added the statement.
“We discussed a schedule for further meetings planned for the next few months, including the possibility of organizing a summit by the end of this year,” Nalbandian told a joint news conference in Yerevan with Ukraine’s visiting Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara, who is also the OSCE’s current chairman-in-office.
“As you know, the latest planned summit did not take place because of Azerbaijan,” he said. “There now seems be an understanding and agreement, in principle, that such a meeting is necessary, and we need to work on holding it by the end of this year.”
The French ambassador in Baku, Pascal Meunier, said earlier this month that Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia were due to meet in June. Meunier did not specify why the meeting did not take place.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has not mentioned the possibility of an Aliyev-Sarkisian encounter in its official statements on the Vienna talks. The ministry spokesman, Elman Abdullayev, has said only that progress in the Karabakh peace process is contingent on the liberation of “the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan is scheduled to hold a presidential election in October, with Aliyev seeking a third term in office.
The mediators have been pushing for a fresh Armenian-Azerbaijani summit since the beginning of this year in the hope of reviving the long search for Karabakh peace.
Aliyev and Sarkisian most recently met in the Russian city of Sochi in January 2012. They pledged at the time to intensify their efforts to agree on the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the mediators. The negotiation process has remained essentially deadlocked since then, however.