By Emil Danielyan
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan announced no further progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process on Wednesday after meeting on the fringes of a summit of former Soviet states, their first face-to-face talks in two months. The meeting came after the apparent failure last month of yet another round of shuttle diplomacy by international mediators.
“It would be wrong to say that we have reached a common denominator,” Kocharian told reporters after a meeting in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi. But he added that he and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heydar Aliev, agreed to continue their direct contacts and “not to score points through the media,” according to Armenian state television.
The Turan news agency quoted Aliev as saying earlier in the day that he will raise the issue of Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh at the informal summit Commonwealth of Independent States leaders, again accusing the Armenian side of using the lands for illegal drug trafficking. The accusations have been repeatedly brushed aside by the Armenian and Karabakh authorities as a public relations stunt.
The Karabakh peace process appears to have stalled since the cancellation of a crucial Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Geneva in June. Last month’s visit to the conflict zone by the French, Russian and US co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group failed to produce major progress. Armenian officials said afterwards that a breakthrough in the peace talks depends on Baku’s support for the main terms of ending the conflict, agreed by the parties earlier this year.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev claimed on July 16 that the existing international peace proposals favor the Armenians and are unacceptable to his country. He denied Yerevan’s assertion that the parties had agreed on the main “principles” of a settlement during talks in Paris last March and in Florida the next month. But in an interview with AFP on July 25, Guliev did admit that a “framework” is in place for the two sides to make progress towards settling the conflict. He declined to say what it is.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani newspaper “Zerkalo” again suggested on Wednesday that Aliev back-pedaled on a peace deal previously agreed with Kocharian and the mediators.