The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process will remain essentially deadlocked until Azerbaijan agrees to confidence-building measures aimed at minimizing ceasefire violations in the conflict zone, a senior Armenian official said on Wednesday.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents reportedly agreed on such measures when they met in Vienna in May shortly after the worst fighting around Karabakh since 1994. Those included international investigations of armed incidents, an idea that has long been advanced by the U.S., Russian and French mediators.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said last week that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev objected to such investigations at a follow-up meeting with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian held in Saint Petersburg in June.
Still, Aliyev and Sarkisian again pledged to bolster the ceasefire regime in a joint statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was issued after that meeting. They also hinted at progress towards a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Armenian officials say there has been no further progress in the peace process since the Saint Petersburg summit because of Baku’s refusal to comply with the confidence-building agreements.
“There is still no progress in the negotiation process,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told reporters. “Furthermore, at this stage it’s not possible to expect progress until the agreements … reached in Vienna and Saint Petersburg are implemented.”
“It’s not possible to expect progress in the negotiation process as long as there is a threat of renewed war and no trust between the parties, as long as they shoot and organize provocations on the Line of Contact [around Karabakh,]” he said.
Kocharian also said in that regard that it is “not yet” clear whether the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers will hold a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the OSCE’s annual ministerial conference that will take place in Hamburg on December 8-9.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group have so far scheduled only separate talks in the German city between Edward Nalbandian an Elmar Mammadyarov. They said on October 26 that they will discuss with Mammadyarov and Nalbandian the possibility of arranging another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit “at the earliest opportunity”
The two ministers traded accusations when they received Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Yerevan and Baku earlier this month. Nalbandian pointed to Baku’s reluctance to accept the safeguards against truce violations, while Mammadyarov claimed that the Armenian side is keen to preserve the Karabakh status quo.