International mediators will again visit Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh soon to try to salvage the stalled Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process, France’s Foreign Ministry announced late on Monday.
In a written statement, the ministry said the French, Russian and U.S. diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group will begin the next round of regional shuttle diplomacy “in coming weeks” in an effort to “prepare the continuation of negotiations.”
The co-chairs already toured the conflict zone earlier this month, ahead of the June 24 Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Kazan which the mediating powers hoped will mark a turning point in their protracted peace efforts. But contrary to these expectations, Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian failed reach an agreement on the basic principles of resolving the Karabakh conflict.
The U.S. State Department described the outcome of the summit as “disappointing.” U.S. President Barack Obama last week personally pressed Aliyev and Sarkisian to cut a framework peace accord in Kazan.
By contrast, the French Foreign Ministry sought to put an optimistic spin on the fiasco, citing a joint statement issued by the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian presidents after the trilateral summit. “As stated in the statement, the meeting in Kazan identified or confirmed several points of understanding, enabling to continue negotiations on the present basis for the subsequent adoption of the principles of settlement proposed by the mediators,” it said.
“The result is not negligible; France, with its partners in the U.S. and Russian co-chairs of the Minsk Group, will spare no efforts to assist all parties in the pursuit of negotiations,” added the ministry statement.
Speaking at a news briefing in Washington late Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland likewise said Aliyev and Sarkisian “noted that they had improved their understanding on a number of issues, agreed to keep working on the basic principles, and to come back together at a future date to be specified.”
According to the Moscow daily “Kommersant,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned his Armenian and Armenian counterparts that he will host more talks between them only if they “firmly” promise to accept the basic principles of Karabakh peace proposed by the mediators.
Unnamed Russian officials cited by the paper said Medvedev is frustrated with the lack of decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. One of them also downplayed the significance of the Kazan statement which said the conflicting parties reached a “mutual understanding on a number of issues whose resolution would help to create conditions for the approval of the basic principles.”