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Armenian, Azeri FMs Trade Accusations In Fresh Talks


Switzerland -- Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanian of Armenia and Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan and international mediators meet in Geneva, January 30, 2020.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of hampering a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh during a fresh video of conference of their foreign ministers and international mediators held on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mammadyarov spoke with each other and the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group for the second time in two months.

Mnatsakanian was quoted by his press office as condemning Azerbaijani leaders’ latest “bellicose and unconstructive” statements. He said that they “damage” international efforts to end the conflict.

Mnatsakanian apparently referred to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s June 25 remarks made at a meeting with Azerbaijani army officers. Aliyev described Armenia’s post-Soviet history as “shameful,” saying that his country’s arch-foe was for decades ruled by “criminals and thieves.” He also said that the 2018 popular protests that brought Nikol Pashinian to power were not a democratic revolution.

An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman hit back at Aliyev, saying that he leads one of the world’s most corrupt and repressive regimes which feels threatened by “democratic changes taking place in Armenia.”

Mammadyarov was reported to say during the video conference that the recent “aggressive rhetoric” deplored by the mediators is the result of Armenia’s provocative actions” taken in the “occupied territories of Azerbaijan.” Those include illegal “infrastructure changes” carried out there, he said in an apparent reference to the planned reconstruction of another road connecting Karabakh to Armenia.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mnatsakanian stressed the importance of ensuring Karabakh residents’ “free and safe movements.” This is an important element of Karabakh’s “comprehensive security,” he said.

In a joint statement on the talks, the Minsk Group co-chairs said they “noted with concern that recent provocative statements, inflammatory rhetoric, and possible steps intended to change the situation on the ground in tangible ways could undermine the settlement process.”

“The Co‑Chairs stressed that there is no military solution to the conflict,” read the statement. “They urged the sides to take additional steps to strengthen the ceasefire and to prepare the populations for peace.”

“The Co‑Chairs and Foreign Ministers‎ agreed to hold another joint video conference in July and to meet in person as soon as possible,” concluded the mediators.

Prime Minister Pashinian criticized Aliyev in unusually strong terms as he chaired a meeting of Armenia’s and Karabakh’s top security officials on June 19. He said that Aliyev is sticking to “maximalist” demands instead of reciprocating his repeated calls for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal that would satisfy all parties to the conflict.

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