Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of trying to walk away from confidence-building agreements that were reached by the presidents of the two warring nations at their recent talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said over the weekend that Baku is reluctant to allow the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to investigate ceasefire violations and deploy more monitors around Nagorno-Karabakh.
These measures backed by Yerevan are designed to bolster the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone following an unprecedented upsurge in fighting there in early April.
“Azerbaijan is making attempts to backtrack on those agreements, pretending that they were not reached in the first place,” Nalbandian told reporters in Warsaw. “This despite the fact that the three mediating countries made clear in their joint statement issued as a result of the [May 16] summit in Vienna that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents agreed to put in place such a mechanism [for investigations of armed incidents.]”
Poland -- French President Francois Hollande (R) greets Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan (L) prior to bilateral talks on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, on July 9, 2016.
Nalbandian said that implementation of these confidence-building measures was the main focus of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s separate talks with Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev held the on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw on Friday.
U.S. officials have given few details of those talks. James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, said on Friday night that both Aliyev and Sarkisian “reject war and are committed to negotiations.” “The U.S. stands ready to help,” Warlick wrote on Twitter.
Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a senior French official chaired the Aliyev-Sarkisian meeting in Vienna. In a joint statement issued afterwards, they said the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents pledged to strengthen the shaky truce, including through OSCE investigations of its further violations.
Aliyev contradicted that statement on June 25, however, saying that such investigations would only “freeze” the Karabakh conflict.
According to the U.S. State Department, Kerry urged conflicting parties to “fulfill the commitments, including implementation of the two confidence building measures, they made at the May 16 meeting in Vienna” when he held phone talks with Aliyev and Sarkisian on June 30.
Nalbandian said that despite Aliyev’s stance the Armenian side “will continue discussions” with Baku and the mediators on ways of implementing the proposed safeguards against truce violations.
Poland -- Polish President Andrzej Duda (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) welcome Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (C) at the opening of the NATO Summit at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, 08 July 2016.
Aliyev made no mention of those safeguards when he commented on the Karabakh issue at a cabinet meeting in Baku on Sunday. Instead, he demanded that the U.S., Russian and French mediators “exert pressure on Armenia” so that the latter agrees to a “phased resolution” of the conflict.
Addressing the NATO summit on Saturday, Aliyev again accused the Armenians of military aggression against his country. He called for a change of the status quo that would “mean liberation of Azerbaijani territory.”
“The status quo will change if Nagorno-Karabakh people’s right to self-determination is recognized [by Azerbaijan,]” Sarkisian shot back in his speech at the summit.
While in Warsaw, Aliyev and Sarkisian also met with French President Francois Hollande. The latter has offered to host the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit which is expected to take place later this summer or this fall.