A senior official in Yerevan said on Friday that Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers are planning to hold fresh talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to try to build on understandings reportedly reached by their presidents last month.
Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev pledged to intensify the peace process and bolster the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone when they met in Geneva on October 16. The U.S., Russian and French mediators announced in the Swiss city that they will soon hold follow-up “working sessions” with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.
Mammadyarov said earlier this week that he may meet with Nalbandian in Moscow on November 16. The Azerbaijani minister is scheduled to meet with the mediators there on that day. Nalbandian will accompany Sarkisian on a trip to the Russian capital expected next week.
Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian confirmed that a meeting of the two foreign ministers is “planned.” “It will be announced as soon as there is an agreement [on its conduct,]” he told reporters.
Asked about the possible date and venue of the talks, Kocharian said: “I can’t tell that as long as there is no concrete agreement.”
Meeting with young members and supporters of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) last week, Sarkisian said that a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh dispute could only be “painful” to both conflicting sides.
Commenting on that remark, Kocharian stressed that the Armenian president referred to a Karabakh settlement based on mutual concessions. “If Azerbaijan comes to its senses and if there is really a compromise solution, then it’s only natural that it will be painful to the parties,” he said. “There are no signs of that today, however.”
“I will refuse to talk about any compromise because if one side not only avoids talking about concessions but is also raising the bar, then it’s a grave mistake to talk about Armenian concessions,” added the diplomat.
Speaking right after the Geneva summit, Sarkisian again ruled out any peace deal that would lead to the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Karabakh. That statement angered Azerbaijani officials. They accused the Armenian president of breaching understandings reached with Aliyev.
Sarkisian shrugged off those accusations. “I have not uttered even half a word about our conversation [with Aliyev] to anyone,” he said on October 26.