International efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have not reached an impasse despite fresh recriminations traded by Armenia and Azerbaijan, a senior European Union diplomat said during a visit to Yerevan on Friday.
“The peace process is certainly in a difficult stage but I would not describe it -- according to the information that we have -- as a deadlock situation,” Herbert Salber, the EU’s special representative to the South Caucasus, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“It seems to me that people, leaders of the sides are talking,” he said. “I observe that the Minsk Group co-chair countries are making a lot of efforts. We have seen a lot of travel all over the place during the summer. So I have good reasons to believe that the talks are going on.”
“I think we should make a difference between the talks themselves and declarations that are made for whatever purposes,” Salber added in reference to the latest statements by Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders blaming each other for a lack of decisive progress in the Karabakh negotiation process.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents raised fresh hopes for a breakthrough after meeting twice in the wake of heavy fighting around Karabakh that broke out in early April. The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group hoped that they will meet again soon in an effort to flesh out understandings reportedly reached by them.
It is still not clear, however, whether another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit will take place before the end of this year. The co-chairs are due to visit the conflict zone later this month.
Salber suggested that the mediators are unlikely to radically change their peace proposals. “I would not expect too much here because proposals are on the table, they have been discussed over the summer, and I am very confident that if the co-chairs visit the region soon these proposals will be discussed further and maybe also amended,” he said. “But that is in their hands.”
The EU envoy also expressed hope that the situation along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border will remain “relatively calm.” Adherence to the ceasefire regime there is “one of the preconditions for productive talks,” he said.
Salber met with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian during his latest trip to Armenia. The Karabakh issue was reportedly high on the agenda of his talks.