Diplomats from the three world powers co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group expressed readiness late on Tuesday to facilitate such talks, including with renewed visits to the conflict zone.
In a joint statement, they noted “with satisfaction” the conflicting sides’ compliance with the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war while calling for “additional efforts” to stabilize the situation. They said that includes the release of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians still held in Azerbaijani custody.
“The Co-Chairs stress that special attention should be paid to the achievement of a final comprehensive and sustainable settlement on the basis of the elements and principles well-known to the sides,” says the statement.
“In this respect, the Co-Chairs call on the parties to resume high-level political dialogue under the auspices of the Co-Chairs at the earliest opportunity. They reiterate their proposal to organize direct bilateral consultations under their auspices, in order for the sides to review and agree jointly upon a structured agenda, reflecting their priorities, without preconditions.”
“The Co-Chairs underscore their readiness to resume working visits to the region, including Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, to carry out their assessment and mediation roles,” added the mediators.
Their joint statement came just hours after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again said that Baku resolved the conflict by winning the six-week war. Aliyev said the Minsk Group co-chairs should therefore deal now not with a Karabakh settlement but other issues such as the post-war demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
By contrast, Armenia has repeatedly stated that the conflict remains unresolved and that the Minsk Group should continue its mediation efforts.
The group’s U.S. and French co-chairs, Andrew Schofer and Stephane Visconti, most recently toured the region and met with Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in December. Their Russian colleague, Igor Popov, missed the trip because of a coronavirus infection.
Aliyev and Pashinian met in Moscow in January for trilateral talks hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.