Azerbaijan does not accept peace proposals made by the United States, Russia and France despite its calls for “substantive” negotiations on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian insisted on Wednesday.
“Azerbaijan continues to mislead the international community by saying that it is ready for substantive negotiations,” he claimed after talks in Yerevan with his Bosnian counterpart Igor Crnadak.
Nalbandian challenged Baku to “prove” its commitment to a peaceful settlement by accepting the internationally recognized principles of non-use of force, peoples’ self-determination and territorial integrity of states.
The three principles are at the heart of a repeatedly modified peace accord that has been advanced by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group for the past decade. The proposed deal calls for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Armenian forces in 1992-1993. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would determine its internationally recognized status in a future referendum.
“Armenia agrees with the co-chair countries,” said Nalbandian. “As for Azerbaijan, it rejects those principles and even refuses to sign international documents that merely refer to those principles.”
“Azerbaijan should first and foremost affirm its commitment to the three principles that are proposed by the three co-chairs,” he added at a news conference.
The Azerbaijani government regularly blames the Armenians for the continuing deadlock in the negotiation process, saying that they are avoiding “substantive” talks in order to cement the status quo. Baku is also reluctant to implement confidence-building agreements that were reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Vienna and Saint Petersburg last year.
The two leaders specifically agreed to allow the OSCE to deploy more field observers in the conflict zone and investigate ceasefire violations occurring there. Yerevan insists that these safeguards are essential for making progress towards a Karabakh settlement.
“Azerbaijan should implement, rather than oppose, the agreements that were reached in Vienna and Saint Petersburg,” said Nalbandian.
Nalbandian and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov are due to meet again in late September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The U.S., Russian and French mediators hope that they will prepare the ground for an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit later this year.