French President Francois Hollande called on his visiting Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to show “political will” to overcome the differences and prepare their peoples for peace as he hosted their talks in Paris on Monday.
President Serzh Sarkisian, of Armenia, and President Ilham Aliyev, of Azerbaijan, met for a third time in less than three months over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. After face-to-face talks they were joined by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group -- U.S. Ambassador James Warlick, Igor Popov of Russia, and France’s Pierre Andrieu.
Hollande initiated the talks during his tour of the South Caucasus in May, three months before a major outbreak of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Since early August Sarkisian and Aliyev already met twice – through the mediation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to the Elysee Palace press office, during their trilateral meeting French President Hollande urged Sarkisian and Aliyev to “boost efforts for settling the conflict within the framework of international law and the principles outlined by the Minsk Group”.
The French leader reportedly called it unacceptable to maintain the status quo in the conflict, suggesting that the parties draft a comprehensive peace agreement.
According to the French side, Sarkisian and Aliyev agreed to continue their dialogue that would also include a meeting at the next session of the UN General Assembly in New York next year.
Meanwhile, U.S. Co-Chair of the Minsk Group Warlick positively evaluated the Sarkisian-Aliyev talks.
“I think the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agree the Paris summit was a positive step. Thanks to Francois Hollande,” he wrote on his Twitter account today.
In late July, early August, Armenia and Azerbaijan appeared to be teetering on the edge of renewed hostilities after an unprecedented escalation of violence at the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border proper.
The sides blamed each other for skirmishes and commando raids in which at least two dozen servicemen were killed.