Armenia stands ready to resume peace talks with Azerbaijan without preconditions after its new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s calls for Nagorno-Karabakh’s direct involvement in them, the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said on Tuesday.
“It’s not that we are refusing negotiations,” the ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, told reporters. “As a guarantor of Karabakh’s security, Armenia will continue negotiations and say at the same time that Artsakh’s direct participation in them is a necessary condition for achieving a lasting and balanced peace.”
During a May 9 visit to Stepanakert, Pashinian criticized Baku’s refusal to directly negotiate with Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership. “This negotiation format cannot be considered full-fledged until one of the parties to the conflict, the leadership of Artsakh (Karabakh), participates in it,” he said.
The Azerbaijani government rejected Pashinian’s calls, accusing Yerevan of creating an additional hurdle to reviving the peace process.
Balayan insisted that the premier’s statement is not a precondition for Yerevan’s renewed contacts with Baku.“Our insistence on Artsakh’s participation [in Armenian-Azerbaijani talks] is not something new,” he said. “We have for years said and will continue to say that. It’s just that the realities have now changed … which presupposes Artsakh’s greater involvement in the negotiation process.”
“Karabakh is involved in negotiations in one way or another … The problem is that Azerbaijan has for years refused to directly negotiate with Karabakh,” added the official.
Balayan also said that the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group may visit Yerevan next month for what will be their first meeting with Pashinian.
The mediators met with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in Paris on May 15. In a joint statement, they said they discussed with him “modalities for moving the peace process forward.”
“Minister Mammadyarov expressed Azerbaijan's readiness to resume active negotiations as soon as possible,” read the statement. “The Co-Chairs expect to meet with the new Armenian leadership in June.”