Armenia and Azerbaijan described the latest meeting of their leaders as “positive” on Friday, saying that they again agreed to strengthen the ceasefire regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and continue their dialogue.
“The meeting took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere and provided an opportunity for the two leaders to clarify their respective positions,” the foreign ministers of the two warring nations said in a joint statement issued hours after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Vienna. “They exchanged views about several key issues of the settlement process and ideas of substance.”
“The two leaders underlined the importance of building up an environment conducive to peace and taking further concrete and tangible steps in the negotiation process to find a peaceful solution to the conflict,” read the statement which was also signed by the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.
It said Aliyev and Pashinian “recommitted to strengthening the ceasefire.” “They also agreed to develop a number of measures in the humanitarian field,” it said, adding that the two leaders will “continue their direct dialogue.”
Pashinian also called the summit “positive.” “I cannot say that there has been a breakthrough, revolution or landmark event in the negotiating process,” he told members of the Armenian community of Austria. “But it is very important that a new process, which allows us to talk about our agendas, ideas and issues, has begun.”
“Obviously each of us strongly believes in his own position, but can we start talking not just about our own positions but also the other side’s positions?” said Pashinian. “What is logical in the opposite side’s position and what is not? I find the meeting positive in this sense.”
Pashinian did not say whether he and Aliyev narrowed their differences over a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict that has long been advanced by the mediators. He implied that they discussed his repeated calls for Karabakh’s direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks but did not report any understandings on this issue.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders have denounced those calls as an attempt to obstruct the negotiating process.
The Vienna summit was Pashinian’s and Aliyev’s fourth face-to-face encounter in six months. The two men spoke for the first time in September on the sidelines of a summit of ex-Soviet states held in Tajikistan. There has been a significant decrease in ceasefire violations around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border since then.
Pashinian stressed on Friday the importance of maintaining the “stable situation” on the frontlines and boosting the safety of residents of Armenian and Azerbaijani border villages.