Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has described as “quite useful” the latest meeting of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents, saying that it might help to break the deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
“With certain caution, I can say that it took place in a constructive atmosphere,” Nalbandian told Armenian reporters shortly after the summit hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg on Monday.
“On some issues, the presidents reached an understanding that if there is agreement on them it will be possible to move the negotiation process towards the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict’s resolution,” he said without going into details.
Nalbandian added only that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev as well as their foreign ministers will continue to meet on a regular basis in the months ahead.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov similarly described the talks as “constructive” and “positive.”
In a joint statement with Putin, Aliyev and Sarkisian said vaguely that they reached an “understanding on a number of issues solutions to which would help to create conditions for progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.” They also agreed to have more OSCE observers periodically deployed in the conflict zone with the aim of preventing ceasefire violations there.
The expansion of the OSCE’s small observer mission for Karabakh is one of the confidence-building measures advocated by Russia, the United States and France. The three mediating powers also want the conflicting parties to allow independent investigations of truce violations that would be conducted by the OSCE.
Aliyev and Sarkisian pledged to accept these safeguards at their previous meeting held in Vienna on May 16. They reaffirmed those pledges in Monday’s statement.
“Unfortunately, it has to be said that until now Azerbaijan did not demonstrate a constructive approach to this issue,” complained Nalbandian. He claimed that Aliyev had walked away in the past from similar agreements designed to strengthen the ceasefire regime on the Karabakh “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
As recently as in March, Aliyev lambasted the mediators for insisting on the safeguards against armed incidents, saying that they would only “freeze the conflict” and thus benefit the Armenian side.