Armenia’s new government is committed to a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and hopes that it will be achieved “very soon,” Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said on Friday.
“We all hope that a Karabakh settlement will happen very soon,” he told reporters. “But the settlement must reflect our interests, aspirations and goals. Obviously we are talking about a compromise but at the heart of it must be … the right to self-determination and the security of the people of Artsakh (Karabakh).”
In that context, Mnatsakanian reaffirmed Yerevan’s readiness resume peace talks with Baku which were interrupted by a recent presidential election in Azerbaijan and regime change in Armenia. “The key task now is to maintain the dynamic of negotiations,” he said. “We are ready to get involved [in the peace process.]”
Mnatsakanian, who was appointed as foreign minister less than two weeks ago, said Yerevan remains “in constant touch” with the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group. He also pointed to his phone conversation last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the upcoming visit to Armenia by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
One day after taking office on May 8, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian called for Nagorno-Karabakh’s direct involvement in the peace process. He said Azerbaijan must directly negotiate with not only Armenia but also Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership.
An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman indicated on May 22 that this is not a precondition for Yerevan’s renewed contacts with Baku.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on Friday rejected Pashinian’s calls and ruled out any talks between his government and “the separatist regime in Karabakh.” The new Armenian leadership’s insistence on them would mean that it “wants to put an end to the peace process,” he warned.
“I have told [the mediators] that such a proposal is ridiculous,” Mammadyarov said in a speech delivered at an international conference in Baku.
Mammadyarov met with the Minsk Group co-chairs in Paris on May 15. The mediators said they discussed with him “modalities for moving the peace process forward.” They are expected to visit Yerevan in June.