(Saturday, January 24)
“Zhamanak” reports that the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group will meet with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in Poland on Tuesday following a fresh upsurge in ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. “Agreement on the meeting was reached yesterday,” says the paper. “There is no doubt that it is connected with the sharp escalation of tensions on the frontlines, which was engineered by Azerbaijan through diversion attacks. In effect, we have had in January what we had in August last year. The August [escalation] by was followed by the Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting in Sochi initiated by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. The situation calmed down after that. Right now there is no talk of another Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting.”
“Zhamanak” points out that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan most recently met in Paris in October. Mammadyarov said at that time that they could hold more face-to-face talks soon. However, the Minsk Group co-chairs have since been in no rush to arrange them. “This too might explain why Azerbaijan is so aggressive on the borders now,” speculates the paper.
“Aravot” comments on former President Robert Kocharian’s latest interview in which he again criticized the Armenian government’s economic policies and its response to the family massacre in Gyumri. “He mainly said the right things,” editorializes the paper. “In the next two or three weeks that interview will be discussed by the second president’s sympathizers and detractors, while political analysts will make forecasts about Kocharian’s plans.”
Turning to the Karabakh conflict, “Aravot” fears that the Azerbaijani armed “provocations” will become even more frequent in the coming months. The paper sees a direct connection between the Karabakh escalation and anti-Russian protests in Gyumri that followed the murder of seven members of a local Armenian family.
“We believe that Armenia must after all adopt a much more offensive approach,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “We are talking about not so much military as political and diplomatic steps. We could at least speak of a halt to the negotiation process, demand an emergency meeting of the mediating co-chairs or demand steps within the OSCE or CSTO framework that may make the adventurist enemy sober up.”