By Emil Danielyan
International mediators will again visit Armenia and Azerbaijan next week despite fresh signs that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will not be resolved before presidential elections due to be held in both countries next year, it emerged on Wednesday.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian discussed details of the trip, scheduled for October 24-27, with the French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Paris.
A ministry statement said they also spoke about “substantive issues” which the two co-chairs and their U.S. counterpart, Matthew Bryza, will raise with the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. No details were reported.
It was not clear if the mediators still hope to get the parties to reach a framework peace accord on Karabakh in the coming weeks. President Robert Kocharian publicly stated last week that this will almost certainly not occur before the start of the presidential races in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“My assessment of the current state of negotiating process is that we are unlikely to reach an agreement on the principles [of Karabakh peace] before the presidential elections,” Kocharian said during a visit to Brussels. Kocharian, who is completing his final and second term in office, noted at the same that the two sides agree on many of those principles and can cut a peace deal after the 2008 polls.
Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev pointedly declined to meet each other on the sidelines of a summit of former Soviet republics in Tajikistan earlier this month. The mediators hoped that such a meeting will yield a breakthrough.