The internationally mediated talks aimed at finding a solution to the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have reached an impasse, an opposition party representative in Armenia argued on Thursday, reacting to the latest meetings of diplomats and statements made by the peace brokers.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am), Vladimir Karapetian, a chief foreign-policy spokesman for the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), also suggested that French President Francois Hollande’s proposal on holding an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Paris in the near future may no longer be on the agenda as well after the parties reported no progress following their foreign ministers’ meetings with the mediators in Brussels earlier this week.
Commenting on the July 23 statement of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairs on the results of their meetings with Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, Karapetian, who served as an Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman in 2006-2008, observed that Yerevan has again failed to persuade the mediators to blame specifically Baku for the latest surge in violence in the Karabakh conflict zone and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
In the statement published late on Wednesday, the United States, Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors James Warlick, Igor Popov and Pierre Andrieu, voiced their ‘serious concern’ over the increase in tensions and violence in the region, including “the targeted killings of civilians.”
They said that during the meetings they urged the parties “to commit themselves to avoiding casualties” and “rejected the deliberate targeting of villages and the civilian population.”
During his meeting with the mediators on Tuesday, Armenian Minister Nalbandian reportedly raised the issue of ‘intensified subversive activities’ by Azerbaijan. He highlighted what he called the increasingly ‘militaristic rhetoric’ of Baku, as well as what he said were numerous violations of the ceasefire regime along the border with Armenia.
Last week, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said a group of Azerbaijanis had been arrested in the region on suspicion of espionage and subversive activities. The unrecognized republic’s police force said the group members had killed one military serviceman and severely wounded a civilian. Another Karabakh teenager, it said, had been kidnapped and then brutally murdered by the alleged Azerbaijani saboteurs.
“It is noticeable that the co-chairs try to keep the balance in their statement. Another major circumstance is that it seems that an Azerbaijani-Armenian summit is again delayed… and the French president’s invitation for a meeting in Paris appears to have been removed from the agenda,” Karapetian said.
In their statement issued from Vienna, the mediators also said that they “continue to review possible security confidence building measures and people-to-people programs with the parties” and believe that such programs “build the trust and confidence necessary for a lasting peace.”
According to the HAK representative, while being important, these programs still have no major influence on the negotiation process.
“The negotiation process that should bring the parties to the conflict closer to a solution has reached a deadlock, no meetings are held, even the co-chairs met with the foreign ministers separately. This means that even the foreign ministers do not meet any longer, and in this sense confidence building measures are hard to implement,” he said.
Karapetian also contended that the mediators’ statements have no influence on the border situation. “Moreover, I can say that the role of the co-chairs in the recent period has considerably decreased,” the Armenian oppositionist said.