By Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to move closer to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during their latest high-level negotiations held in Geneva, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL on Wednesday.
Speaking by telephone shortly after the talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, Oskanian said the two sides still have “deep differences” over unspecified key details of a peace accord drafted by international mediators. He said they agreed to meet again next month in another attempt to lay the groundwork for a potentially decisive meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.
“I thought that these negotiations should take place in a bit more smooth manner, but this was not the case. They were quite difficult and complicated,” Oskanian said without elaborating.
“But this is understandable as we are increasingly going into the details of the basic principles [proposed by the mediators.] That is why new complications keep emerging,” he added.
Mammadyarov did not immediately comment on the Geneva talks.
The American, French and Russian mediators want Presidents Ilham Aliev and Robert Kocharian to meet and cut a framework peace deal shortly after Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group hoped that Oskanian and Mammadyarov will minimize the conflicting parties’ remaining differences on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement.
Oskanian insisted that this may still happen at the next meeting of the foreign ministers, arguing that the parties have already created “quite a solid base” for reaching agreement. “There is a document on the table,” he said. “We believe it is a fairly serious document that allows for a solution to the problem.”
The proposed peace deal calls for a gradual settlement of the Karabakh dispute that would culminate in a referendum of self-determination in Karabakh. Baku and Yerevan are believed to disagree, among other things, on practical modalities of that referendum.
Oskanian and Mammadyarov met the day after attending and trading fresh accusations at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Mammadyarov repeated Azerbaijani allegations of “Armenian aggression” against his country, while Oskanian said Azerbaijan “lost the political and moral right to govern people they considered their own citizens.”