Azerbaijan, meanwhile, said it sees no chance of a breakthrough at the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in the Russian city of Kazan, contrary to the mediators’ expectations.
The United States, Russia and France have urged Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev to hammer out a framework peace accord at the Kazan meeting scheduled for June 25.
U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group began this week a fresh tour of the conflict zone aimed at helping the conflicting parties narrow their differences on the proposed settlement. They ended the tour in Yerevan with talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Nalbandian.
Sarkisian’s office said the mediators briefed the Armenian leader on their meetings in Baku and discussed preparations for the Kazan summit. It gave no details.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian reassured the co-chairs that “Armenia has given a clear-cut answer to the latest version of the basic principles” drafted by the three mediating powers. He said decisive progress in peace talks depends on their acceptance by Azerbaijan. A ministry statement cited Nalbandian as questioning Baku’s readiness to do so “without changes and amendments.”
In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov did not assess the proposed agreement as a whole. Azimov said instead that he is not optimistic about the outcome of the Kazan summit which will be hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“I do not expect an agreement on the basic principles in Kazan but I expect some more clarity on the most critical issues,” he said without elaborating.
“Azerbaijan is ready to show some flexibility. What we want is clear and we do not transcend the principles of international law, but at the same time we cannot agree for less.”
Azimov also insisted that Baku is not preparing to try to forcibly win back Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it despite an ongoing military build-up. “We are not interested in war. Since we see the diplomatic possibilities, why should we think about war?” he told Reuters.
“Who said that Azerbaijan should have a weak army?” added Azimov. “It's good to have a good army and it's better not to use it. This is the principle that we enjoy.”