Armenia stands for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on “reasonable” mutual concessions by both warring sides, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Friday.
Sarkisian mentioned the unresolved dispute in his speech at a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.
“We have always made clear our position which is in tune with the position of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group: namely, the conflict’s resolution through peace negotiations on the basis of international law and norms as well as a reasonable mutual compromise. I stress: mutual compromise,” he said.
Sitting next to his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, Sarkisian stressed at the same time further progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks is contingent on the implementation of confidence-building measures designed to prevent deadly truce violations. Those include international investigations of such violations and deployment of more OSCE field observers in in the conflict zone.
Sarkisian and Aliyev agreed on such measures, sought by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, when they met in Vienna in May more than a month after the heaviest fighting in and around Karabakh since 1994.
The two leaders signaled further progress after holding follow-up talks hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg in June. That summit fueled media speculation that Moscow is pressing the conflicting parties to agree to a peace deal based on the co-chairs’ so-called Madrid Principles. No further Aliyev-Sarkisian meetings have been scheduled since then.
The mediators’ framework peace accord calls for a gradual return to Azerbaijan of virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would be able to determine the disputed territory’s internationally recognized status in a future referendum.
Meeting with Putin in Moscow last month, Sarkisian stressed that international recognition of the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination must be at the heart of any workable peaceful deal.
By contrast, Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders have repeatedly rejected a settlement that would stop short of restoring Baku’s control over Karabakh.
As of Friday afternoon, it was not clear whether Sarkisian and Aliyev planned to hold a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the Bishkek summit attended by Putin.