International mediators are not putting “serious pressure” on Armenia in their efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev complained over the weekend.
Chairing a cabinet meeting in Baku, Aliyev again accused the Armenian side of stalling for time in the Karabakh negotiation process. “Our position is radically different, we want to resolve the conflict,” he said, according to Azerbaijani news agencies.
“The [U.S., Russian and French] co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have also repeatedly said that they want to achieve the conflict’s resolution … Unfortunately, no serious pressure in that direction is exerted on the [Armenian] aggressors,” he said.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly criticized the mediating powers in recent years, saying that they are not pushing hard for the restoration of Baku’s control over Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-controlled districts surrounding it.
Armenian leaders reject the criticism and deny seeking to reinforce the status quo in the conflict. They say that the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the mediating troika are largely acceptable to Yerevan.
In a joint statement issued last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and France’s European Affairs Secretary Harlem Desir defended their nations’ Karabakh peace efforts. “Any attempts to blame the Co-Chairs for setbacks in the negotiation process only mask the primary obstacle to peace - the lack of political will in Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a negotiated settlement,” they said.
Later in December Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian met in Bern, Switzerland in an attempt to revive the peace process. Aliyev on Sunday confirmed that they failed to make progress, saying that the December 19 summit was a mere “formality.”
Despite the lack of progress, tensions along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border appear to have eased since the summit. The Armenian military has reported a significant decrease in the number of shooting incidents there. Still, one of its soldiers, Aramayis Voskanian, was killed in action near Karabakh on Saturday.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry strongly condemned Voskanian’s killing n Monday, saying that it “will not remain without consequences” for Azerbaijani forces.
Both warring sides suffered last year the largest number of combat deaths since a Russian-brokered truce stopped the full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war in 1994. Aliyev’s government has until now opposed concrete safeguards against truce violations proposed by the mediators.