by Hrach Melkumian in Yerevan
On the second day of their visit to Armenia, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, representing the United States, Russia and France, accompanied by the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia met with President Robert Kocharian. The co-chairmen had already visited Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh prior to arriving in Armenia.
Following the meeting, the OSCE diplomats met with journalists but said very little about the details of their discussion with Kocharian. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov voiced optimism; saying that what is important is that the mediators are leaving the region not as pessimists but as optimists.
However, it should be noted that the diplomats did not specifically mention any concrete progress in resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict that has plagued the region since 1988. As in previous days of their visit in the region, they emphasized that they brought no new proposals, rather ideas concerning details of what the two sides have already agreed upon in previous rounds of negotiations in Paris and Key West earlier this year. Trubnikov said that what could be considered concerns the details, refusing to give any details, as has been the long held principle in the peace process.
Some observers have the impression that since direct negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Key West, Fl, in May of this year, the mediators were faced with ironing out more problems with Azerbaijan than with Armenia. It is worth noting that while their meeting in Baku with President Heydar Aliev lasted for four hours, the meeting with Kocharian today was less than two hours.
The mediators, asked about the reaction of the parties to their new ideas told reporters that it was difficult to judge the interest shown by different parties to different elements of their ideas. It can be said that usually the OSCE mediators do not expect an immediate answer to new ideas offered to the conflicting sides. At this juncture, it can be expected that perhaps the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will hold discussions during the upcoming CIS summit in the end of the month, but the co-chairmen were not certain if a face-to-face meeting will take place. Nevertheless, they expressed hope that if such a meeting does take place, progress can be expected.