International mediators said on Wednesday that they expect the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach framework agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at their upcoming meeting in Russia.
“We hope that they will at once approve the final variant of the basic principles [of the conflict’s resolution,]” Bernard Fassier, the French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group told journalists after he and his U.S. and Russian colleagues held talks with Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leaders in Stepanakert.
“We hope that the parties will display a constructive approach in Kazan,” Igor Popov, the group’s Russian co-chair, said, for his part. He said the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are now trying to iron out the remaining disagreements on the basic principles proposed by the three mediating powers.
“It’s possible that this work will be completed in Kazan,” Popov added, referring to the venue of the next Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.
Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev as well as their Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, are expected to meet in the Russian city by the end of this month. Their foreign ministers will discuss preparations for that meeting in Moscow this weekend.
In a joint May 26 statement, Medvedev, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Aliyev and Sarkisian to finalize “the latest version of the Basic Principles” at Kazan. They said the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders already discussed that confidential document during their last meeting in March.
Both Yerevan and Baku have welcomed that statement but refrained from commenting on chances of a breakthrough at Kazan. Each party says the onus is on the other to bring the negotiating process to a successful conclusion.
Robert Bradtke, Washington’s chief Karabakh negotiator, reiterated in Stepanakert the mediators’ view that neither side must attempt to solve the conflict by force. “The use of force would only lead to more destruction, death and suffering,” he said.
The mediators spoke to reporters on the second leg of their ongoing tour of the conflict zone. They arrived in Karabakh from Baku on Tuesday and will meet with Sarkisian in Yerevan on Thursday.