Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have promised more efforts to “prepare the populations for peace,” international mediators said after ending a fresh tour of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone late on Thursday.
The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group met with Pashinian and Aliyev during their latest trips to Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku.
“The two leaders briefed the Co-Chairs on their recent conversation during the CIS summit in Ashgabat and presented their ideas on how to advance the settlement process,” read a joint statement issued by the mediators. “The Co-Chairs welcomed the prospect of implementing specific humanitarian and security measures to prepare the populations for peace and reduce tensions.”
The mediators shed no light on those measures. They said they urged the conflicting parties to remove “obstacles potentially interfering with” the work of a small OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime along the Karabakh “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. They did not specify what those obstacles are and who created them.
Aliyev and Pashinian already agreed to take “a number of measures in the humanitarian field” and help create “an environment conducive to peace” when they met in Vienna in March. There seems to have been no further progress in the negotiation process since then.
The two leaders publicly traded barbs during the October 11 summit of former Soviet republics held in Turkmenistan’s capital. Still, they reportedly talked to each other at great length at an official dinner hosted by Turkmen President Gurbaguly Berdymuhamedov.
In their statement, the mediators also announced that the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers “confirmed their intention to meet again under Co-Chair auspices before the end of the year.” The Russian co-chair, Igor Popov, said in Stepanakert on Wednesday that the talks could be held in December.
Like Aliyev and Pashinian, the two ministers have met on a regular basis over the past year, most recently in New York late last month. In an interview with the Russian newspaper “Izvestia” published on Thursday, Azerbaijan’s Elmar Mammadyarov said he is “a bit disappointed” with the results of the New York talks.
“If we want to move forward and really want a political settlement of this dispute then we should start … ‘substantive negotiations,’” said Mammadyarov. He complained that the mediators believe such talks are contingent on a further decrease in shooting incidents on the frontlines. More serious truce violations there did not prevent Baku and Yerevan from making progress in their past negotiations, he said.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed Mammadyarov’s criticism on Friday.