Armenia on Friday denied Azerbaijan’s claims that the foreign ministers of the two states discussed a framework peace agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh during their talks held in Bratislava last week.
In a TV interview aired earlier this week, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said the “tough” talks focused on the most recent version of the so-called Madrid Principles of a Karabakh settlement originally drafted by the U.S., Russian and French mediators in 2007. He said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented it to the conflicting parties two years ago.
“We have repeatedly made clear that no document is being discussed,” said Anna Naghdalian, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
“It is not clear what Mr. Mammadyarov is talking about,” she told a news briefing.
In Mammadyarov’s words, the peace deal which he discussed with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian at Bratislava is based on a joint statement made by the mediators in March this year.
That statement said that “any fair and lasting settlement” must involve “return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance; a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will.”
The latter provision presumably involves a referendum in which Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would be able to determine the territory’s internationally recognized status.
In a “memorandum” circulated ahead of the Bratislava talks, the Azerbaijani mission to the OSCE said, however, that Karabakh residents can only be granted “the status of self-rule … within Azerbaijan.”
Zohrabian denounced this “maximalist” stance in his speech at an OSCE ministerial conference held in the Slovak capital the day after his meeting with Mammadyarov. He insisted on Karabakh’s right to “maintain and determine a status outside the jurisdiction, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.”
Naghdalian likewise stressed that “recognition of the Karabakh people’s right to self-determination” must be at the heart of any compromise settlement.
In a joint statement on the Mammadyarov-Mnatsakanian meeting, Lavrov and senior U.S. and French diplomats urged the warring sides to “engage in good faith substantive negotiations without artificial delays or conditions.” They said the two ministers agreed to meet again early next year “to intensify negotiations on the core issues of a peaceful settlement.”
Mammadyarov told the CBC TV channel that his next meeting with Mnatsakanian will take place in January. Naghdalian did not confirm this.