International mediators and Armenia are not to blame for the lack of progress in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a recent interview with Russia’s leading daily, Kommersant.
The top Armenian diplomat implied that it is Azerbaijan’s fault that the negotiating process has been stalled recently.
“We have repeatedly stated that we are ready to reach a solution based on the proposals made by the [Minsk Group] co-chairs. It is Azerbaijan that criticizes the co-chairs for these very proposals. Baku even accuses them of Islamophobia, stating that there isn’t any point in having meetings with them as they do not exert pressure on Armenia.”
“Perhaps, in Azerbaijan they do not quite understand the role of mediators. The mediators’ efforts should be directed first of all at establishing a dialogue, arranging meetings and approximating positions, instead of exerting pressure on one party or another,” added the top Armenian diplomat.
Meanwhile, commenting on Nalbandian’s remarks, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused the Armenian minister of “distorting the essence of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process.”
Nalbandian gave the interview to Kommersant ahead of President Serzh Sarkisian’s working visit to Moscow on March 10 that was officially announced only today. The issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is expected to feature prominently at the talks.
Along with the United States and France, Russia is a mediator in the protracted conflict, working with Armenia and Azerbaijan as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. At the same time, Russia is known to have been supplying weapons to both sides of the conflict. Last month, an official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that in providing arms to Armenia and Azerbaijan Moscow takes a thorough consideration of “the need to maintain the balance of forces in the region”.
In his latest interview Nalbandian again said that it wasn’t to Armenia’s liking that its military and political ally Russia supplies weapons to Azerbaijan. At the same time, he acknowledged that Russia “makes a lot of effort, including in its interaction with Armenia and as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, in order to maintain peace and stability in our region.”
The high-level Russian-Armenian talks are planned amid what appears to be a new escalation of tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone. The ethnic Armenian military leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday accused Azerbaijani forces of attempting overnight another commando raid inside Karabakh positions southeast of the line of contact separating the two armies.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Army said Azerbaijani forces met resistance and were forced to retreat “suffering casualties”. It said the ethnic Armenian troops did not incur any losses in repulsing the attack. At the same time, the Karabakh military denied reports in Azerbaijan about Armenian forces targeting civilians near an Azerbaijani borderline village.