U.S., Russian and French diplomats trying to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are expected to begin next week a new round of regional shuttle diplomacy after holding consultations with senior officials in Washington and Moscow.
The three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will likely make more efforts to arrange renewed face-to-face negotiations between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
They were in Washington last week, holding meetings at the U.S. State Department and National Security Council on the current state of the Karabakh peace process. No details of those meeting were made public. James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair, said only on his Twitter page that the United States remains “committed to working Russia and France” to help settle the long-running conflict.
Warlick tweeted on Sunday that he is now travelling to Moscow for further “consultations” on the issue. “We are working together for [Karabakh] peace,” he wrote.
Jean-Francois Charpentier, the French ambassador to Armenia, said on Monday that the mediators are due to tour the conflict zone next week. According to Armenian press reports, they will arrive in Armenia on July 20 and proceed to Azerbaijan the following day.
Warlick visited the two warring states on his own just over a month ago. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Yerevan that the mediators are now trying to “frame the issues” that would be on the agenda of the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.
Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev most recently met in Paris in October. Both leaders gave positive assessments of that summit which was aimed at kick-starting the peace process.
However, tensions in the conflict zone were reignited in November by the shooting down by Azerbaijani forces of an Armenian combat helicopter near Karabakh. Also, there was a renewed upsurge in deadly truce violations in January.
The conflicting parties have reported few serious incidents along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border since the beginning of April. Observers in Armenia link this relative calm on the frontlines with the recent European Games in Baku.