BERN, Switzerland–Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met on Saturday in another effort by the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as fighting escalated overnight on the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border.
Attending the talks were the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov (Russia), James Warlick (USA), Pierre Andrieu (France) and the Personal Representative of the OCSE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk. Later the Presidents talked face-to-face.
The meeting focused on steps targeted at easing tensions in the conflict zone and opportunities of furthering the conflict resolution process.
Shortly after the meeting, Nalbandian talked to reporters saying that while there was a need to continue meetings on the presidential level, however, this particular meeting in Berne “was dictated because of the the escalation of the situation, Azerbaijani-initiated provocations and gross ceasefire violations. And it is clear that when we have such a situation, other issues become secondary,” reported Armenpress.
Nalbandian noted that Azerbaijan tries to compensate its weakness in negotiations by provocative measures. In his words, the Azerbaijani strategists think that this empowers them. “What are the results of their policy? Nothing positive, it has never, does not and will never give them any advantage,” Nalbandian stated.
“Armenia has always supported and now supports the idea of reaching a solution through continuing the negotiations. And the participation of our President in this summit speaks about that. This speaks about that Armenia reconfirms its commitment to continue efforts in collaboration with the Co-chairs aimed at exceptionally peaceful conflict settlement, ” added Nalbandian.
“We can again reconfirm that the approaches of the sides are not close to each other. But the approaches of Azerbaijan are not close and do not coincide not only with the approaches of Armenia, but also, we can say, do not coincide with the proposals of the Co-chair countries. You know that there have been five announcements referring to Karabakh conflict settlement and until today Azerbaijan avoids to refer to those announcements where the principles are enshrined. The Co-chairs have mentioned several times that those proposals are one and a whole, separating one principle from the other will lead to a deadlock,” explained Nalbandian.
“Azerbaijan merely pretends that it is ready to do something. But what is Azerbaijan ready to do? The announcements that they make to shape their own public opinion and think that by that they can impress someone else abroad, is not so. The Co-chairs issued a statement in Belgrade and I referred to that statement commenting on each point, and what was the comment of Azerbaijan? There are no comments, because what the co-chairs say is what we say,” added Nalbandian.
“The summit created an opportunity for the Presidents to clarify their respective positions during their one-on-one meeting. The Presidents discussed recent violence and expressed particular concern about casualties, including civilians, caused by the use of heavy weapons. The Presidents supported the Co-Chairs’ ongoing work on proposals regarding measures to reduce the risk of violence along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border, including an investigation mechanism. The Presidents confirmed their readiness to continue engagement on proposals regarding a settlement currently under negotiation. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk Group format. The Co-Chairs remain ready to work with the sides on mediating a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said the Minsk Group Co-chairmen in a statement released after the talks.
“During the meeting the main emphasis was put on ensuring stability and peace, as well as the inadmissibility of using force. Of course, at meetings Aliyev behaved one way, but after returning to Azerbaijan, he will behave in another way,” Nagorno-Karabakh Republic presidential spokesperson Davit Babayan told Armenpress.
“The Armenia-Azerbaijan summit concluded with a toast to 2016 to work towards a negotiated settlement,” Babayan said commenting on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen’s announcement.
“It is obvious that the great-powers stressed at the meeting through the Co-chairs that they do not see any military solution to the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict. Meetings of the Presidents will continue in the next year during which the main emphasis will be put on preserving relative stability and not waging war,” added Babayan.