By Emil Danielyan
Senior representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents may hold another meeting in Prague by the end of next month to discuss ways of reviving the stalled Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, officials in Baku said on Thursday.
The Azerbaijani envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the talks will take place in late July if President Heydar Aliev decides so.
Azimov and his Armenian opposite number, Tatul Markarian, already met near the Czech capital in mid-May under a new format of negotiations mediated by the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group. The talks ended without an apparent breakthrough, although the participants described them as “useful.”
Azimov’s statement means that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents are unlikely to meet next month as was earlier suggested by Aliev. Relations between the two leaders, who have met on numerous occasions over the past three years, seem to have deteriorated since Aliev’s revelation earlier this month of some alleged details of Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements reached in Paris in March 2001.
Aliev claimed that the agreements called for an exchange of territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of a Karabakh settlement. But President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian officials have denied ever accepting the idea, which is very unpopular in Armenia. According to Kocharian, Aliev was thus trying to prompt the Armenian opposition to remove him from power.
Kocharian had told reporters on May 17 that the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit will likely take place “in the near future.” However, the latest diplomatic spat between Baku and Yerevan has left a big question mark over the planned Kocharian-Aliev meeting.