Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian discussed a possible meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, as he met on Tuesday with international mediators advancing peace efforts in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
The meeting between Nalbandian and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov, of Russia, Stephane Visconti, of France, and Andrew Schofer, of the United States, took place during the top Armenian diplomat’s working visit to Moscow, Russia, the press office of Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.
According to the report, the meeting was also attended by Andrzej Kasprzyk, a personal representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office.
“During the meeting the sides exchanged views on the necessary steps towards creating conducive conditions for the advancement of the process of exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The interlocutors discussed the steps aimed at the implementation of the agreements reached during the summits in Vienna, St. Petersburg and Geneva,” the Ministry said in a statement.
“The possibility of organizing a meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan was discussed,” it added.
Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said earlier this month that Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers were planning to hold fresh talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to try to build on understandings reportedly reached by the two countries’ presidents in October.
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 American, Russian and French mediators announced in the Swiss city that they will soon hold follow-up “working sessions” with Foreign Minister Nalbandian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Mammadyarov.
Mammadyarov said late last month 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 President Sarkisian on a trip to the Russian capital, which is due to start on November 15.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Armenia and then to Azerbaijan in the near future, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
“At the beginning of next week my visits to Yerevan and Baku are planned. They are related to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Russian-Armenian and Russian-Azerbaijani diplomatic ties. Issues of bilateral relations are on the agenda, we have rich relations with these two countries,” Lavrov said.
According to him, international issues will be discussed during the meetings. “We will try to understand at what stage our efforts on the Karabakh settlement are after the meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva,” the top Russian diplomat said.
Meanwhile, ahead of Lavrov’s regional tour Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reiterated his country’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. Speaking at a meeting dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Aliyev again stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be settled “within the framework of the principle of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.”
“There is no other way. We will never allow the establishment of a second Armenian state in our historical territory,” the Azerbaijani leader claimed. He further claimed that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity at any cost. According to Aliyev, Azerbaijan will consistently strengthen its armed forces.
“According to international ratings, our army is one of the most powerful armies in the world. The army will be given as much means and equipment as it will be required, without restrictions,” Aliyev said.
The Armenian leadership did not immediately react to Aliyev’s statements.