Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations on Monday over what a senior Azerbaijani official described as a failure of fresh talks on Nagorno-Karabakh held by their foreign ministers in Paris last week.
Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov met there in the presence of U.S., Russian and French mediators on January 28 in a bid to revive the Karabakh peace process.
A joint statement by the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said they discussed a “working proposal to advance the peace process” which the mediators submitted to the conflicting parties in October. The statement reported no concrete agreements, saying only that Nalbandian and Mammadyarov reiterated their “determination to continue negotiations.”
“The results of the Paris meeting leave much to be desired,” Azerbaijani news agencies quoted Mammadyarov’s deputy Araz Azimov as telling reporters in Baku. Azimov said the Armenian side rejected Azerbaijani proposals on ending the impasse in the long-running peace talks. He did not disclose those proposals.
“There will be elections in Armenia soon. Maybe something will change after them. We must continue working together with the co-chairs,” Azimov said. He at the same time accused Yerevan of stalling for time.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry insisted later in the day that Mammadyarov did not present any proposals at Paris. “In fact, the Azerbaijani side is continuing to stubbornly reject or trying to revise all proposals made by the three co-chairs, which was repeated at the last meeting held in Paris,” Tigran Balayan, the ministry spokesman, said in written remarks.
The Paris talks also focused on controversial Armenian plans to launch commercial flights to Karabakh fiercely opposed by Azerbaijan. The statement by the mediating troika gave no details of that discussion.
The Azerbaijani leadership has repeatedly threatened to forcibly halt the Yerevan-Stepanakert flights, saying that they would violate Baku’s internationally recognized sovereignty over Karabakh. The Armenian military, for its part, has warned of retaliatory measures.
“The Azerbaijani side will not allow illegal flights in its airspace,” Azimov said, according to the APA news agency. But he stressed that Baku would not shoot down civilian planes and would force them to land at Azerbaijani airports instead.