Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian confirmed on Wednesday that he will hold fresh talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in New York next month.
He said the meeting will take place “in the second half of September” and focus on “creating necessary conditions for advancing negotiation process.”
Nalbandian and Mammadyarov most recently met in Brussels on July 11 in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. The mediators continued to press for a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. In a joint statement, they said the two ministers agreed to meet again in September for further discussions on the issue.
According to Nalbandian there is still no final agreement on the proposed Armenian-Azerbaijani summit. “There is nothing concrete on the meeting [of the presidents] yet,” the minister told reporters.
In a televised interview aired on July 16, President Serzh Sarkisian said a “preliminary agreement” on his face-to-face talks with Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev was reached during the co-chairs’ tour of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in June. “My expectations from the meeting are not big, but that meeting could take place this autumn,” he told the Armenia TV station.
The two presidents most recently met in May and June 2016 shortly after four-day deadly hostilities around Karabakh. They agreed to allow the OSCE to deploy more field observers in the conflict zone and investigate truce violations occurring there.
The Azerbaijani government has since been reluctant to implement these safeguards, however, saying that they would cement the status quo in the absence of progress in peace talks. The Armenian leadership insists, meanwhile, on an unconditional implementation of the confidence-building measures that were agreed by Aliyev and Sarkisian.
Nalbandian implied on Wednesday that he does not expect the U.S., Russian and French mediators to come up with new peace proposals.
Over the past decade, the mediators have advanced a framework peace accord calling for a resolution of the dispute that would start with a gradual liberation of virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly ethnic Armenian population would determine the territory’s internationally recognized status in a future referendum.