International mediators and the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan reported no progress towards a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after fresh talks held by them in Paris late on Friday.
Official Baku and Yerevan exchanged barbs, while the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group warned that increased truce violations in the conflict zone are reducing chances of a breakthrough in the long-running negotiation process.
“The Co-Chairs expressed their deep concern over continued violence in the region, and stressed that recent incidents undermine negotiations and diminish the prospects for peace. They called on the sides to fully and unconditionally respect the terms of the ceasefire agreement,” read a statement released by the troika.
“We need a greater political commitment from all parties to find a peaceful settlement for Nagorno-Karabakh. Status quo should be unacceptable,” James Warlick, the Minsk Group’s U.S. co-chair,” wrote on his Tweeter account separately.
Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan was quick to leave the following comment there: “We need to force Azerbaijan to stop provocations and irresponsible actions and hate propaganda,” he said.
Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian of Armenia and Elmar Mammadyarov met in Paris for a second round of talks aimed at building on progress that was reportedly made at the most recent Armenian-Azerbaijani summit held in Vienna last November. The mediators said earlier that Nalbandian and Mammadyarov will try to “prepare for the next summit.”
The co-chairs’ statement on the Paris talks made no mention of the next meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. It said instead that Warlick, Russia’s Igor Popov and France’s Jacques Faure will again visit the conflict zone soon to “continue talks with the Presidents.”
The Paris meeting was overshadowed by an upsurge in skirmishes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of contact” around Karabakh. The Armenian side says it resulted from a Azerbaijani commando raid on a Karabakh army outpost on January 19. Azerbaijan denies such an attack and blames the Armenians for the ceasefire violations.
According to a statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian accused Baku of escalating tensions, making fresh bellicose statements and voicing territorial claims to Armenia when he met with Mammadyarov and the mediators. He called that a “serious blow to the negotiation process.”
For his part, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev quoted Mammadyarov as saying in the French capital that the conflict will be resolved “as soon as Armenia’s armed forces liberate Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.” “Restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is the basis of negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Abdullayev said in a statement cited by the Trend news agency.
Balayan dismissed the statement, saying that it “does not correspond to the content of the negotiations.” “One gets the impression that the Azerbaijani side has negotiated with itself,” he wrote on his Facebook page.