Armenia and Azerbaijan reported significant progress towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict following a meeting of their foreign ministers held in Moscow on Saturday. (UPDATED)
The meeting was hosted and mediated by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in preparation for the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijan summit which international mediators hope will result in a framework peace agreement on Karabakh.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov narrowed their governments’ differences on “a number of key issues of the basic principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” “That draft document will be discussed at the trilateral summit to be held at the end of June,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia issued a virtually identical statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies. Neither side specified the issues that were reportedly agreed upon by Nalbandian and Mammadyarov.
The two ministers met in Moscow just days after U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group ended yet another tour of the conflict zone. The co-chairs’ talks in Baku, Stepanakert and Yerevan in turn followed a joint statement on the Karabakh dispute issued by the U.S., Russian and French presidents.
The three leaders urged their Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to finalize the basic principles, drafted by the three mediating powers, at their next meeting. It is due to be hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Kazan, Russia on June 25.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev stressed the importance of that statement as he ended an official visit to Slovenia on Saturday. He told journalists there that conditions are now ripe for achieving a breakthrough in the Karabakh negotiating process.
According to Azerbaijani media, Aliyev also said that the mediators’ current peace proposals are “the last chance” to settle the conflict peacefully.
“We think that there will be opportunities to achieve certain progress at the Kazan meeting,” a senior official from Aliyev’s administration, Ali Hasanov, said on Monday.
Mammadyarov, for his part, cautioned that there are still disagreements between the conflicting parties. “There is progress on some issues but at the same some of them remain unsolved,” he told journalists in Baku, according to the Trend news agency. He said it is still too early to publicize the sticking points.