Ending their latest visit to Yerevan on Thursday, international mediators indicated their intention to organize a meeting of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers soon.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group visited the Armenian capital for the first time since the recent change of the country’s government resulting from mass protests. They met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and other Armenian leaders during the two-day trip.
“The Co-Chairs and the Armenian officials reviewed the status of negotiations and discussed next steps to move the process forward, including a ministerial meeting in the near future,” they said in a joint statement. “They also exchanged views on the current situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the line of contact, underscoring the importance of maintaining a constructive environment.”
“Armenian officials expressed their support for the work of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and … their willingness to continue working productively under the auspices of the Co-Chairs,” added the statement.
Official Armenian statements on the talks did not mention the possibility of what would be the first meeting between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and his recently appointed Armenian counterpart, Zohrab Mnatsakanian. Pashinian’s press office said he discussed with the mediators ways of creating “a favorable atmosphere for advancing the negotiation process.”
The mediators met with Mammadyarov in Paris on May 15. In a joint statement they said he “expressed Azerbaijan's readiness to resume active negotiations as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership claimed on Thursday Azerbaijan is continuing to mass troops near “the line of contact” east of Karabakh.
“Since April there has been a buildup of their troops practically along the entire border,” said Davit Babayan, a spokesman for Karabakh President Bako Sahakian. “They have deployed there army units that had been permanently stationed deeper inside Azerbaijan. And in recent days movements of those units have intensified.”
Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Karabakh’s Defense Army is closely monitoring the troop movements and taking other “appropriate steps.”
The army released on Tuesday short video clips purportedly showing the Azerbaijani troop buildup at some sections of the frontline.