Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope on Tuesday that his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts will make progress towards a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at their upcoming fresh talks.
Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanian are scheduled to meet in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava on Wednesday on the sidelines of an annual gathering of top diplomats from the OSCE member states. As always, they will be joined by the Russian, U.S. and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.
Lavrov discussed preparations for the meeting during his latest visit to Azerbaijan. He spoke of “possibilities of achieving a compromise” between the conflicting parties after holding talks with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Mammadyarov. He praised Baku for being open to Karabakh-related “ideas advanced by Russia.”
“Yesterday’s and today’s contacts [in Baku] allowed us to better understand how to move forward,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with Mammadyarov. “I hope there will be a result.”
Lavrov, who also visited Yerevan last month, said he specifically hopes that Mammadyarov, Mnatsakanian and the Minsk Group co-chairs will issue a joint statement as a result of the Bratislava meeting. “If that will be impossible for some reason, the three co-chairs will put their position on paper in any case,” he added.
Mammadyarov said, for his part, that he expects the start of “serious substantive negotiations” on a Karabakh settlement in the Slovak capital. “We have to move forward,” he said.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers most recently met in New York in late September. Mammadyarov said afterwards that he was “a bid disappointed” with the outcome of those talks. He complained about the mediators’ focus on confidence-building measures, rather than “substantive negotiations” sought by Baku.
Mnatsakanian insisted last month that the Karabakh peace process is not in deadlock.