France expressed readiness on Tuesday to organize another meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents which international mediators hope will break the current deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
French President Francois Hollande publicized the offer after talks held with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan. He met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Monday. The unresolved Karabakh conflict was on the agenda of his visits to the two warring nations.
“Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] ceasefire,” Hollande told a joint news conference with Sarkisian. “But the ceasefire is not enough, a final solution needs to be found.”
He offered to step up French efforts to broker a Karabakh settlement within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-headed by France, the United States and Russia. “France is ready to host the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for finding ways to boost mutual confidence,” added the French leader.
Sarkisian did not comment on the possibility of his next face-to-face encounter with Aliyev.
Aliyev and Sarkisian revived hopes for a solution to the Karabakh dispute after they met in Vienna last November for the first time in almost two years. The U.S., Russian and French mediators acting under the Minsk Group aegis planned to arrange their follow-up meeting early this year. However, it was postponed indefinitely after a recent upsurge in truce violations and fresh recriminations traded by the conflicting parties.
The Minsk Group co-chairs cited no possible dates for the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit on Monday in a joint statement on the 20th anniversary of the Russian-mediated agreement that stopped the bloody war for Karabakh. Instead, they questioned the warring sides’ declared commitment to a compromise peace deal.