Sarkisian, Aliyev Agree to Intensify Peace Talks

Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev meet in Geneva on Monday
Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev meet in Geneva on Monday

Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev meet in Geneva on Monday

Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs announcement

GENEVA—The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, met Monday at the residence of the Swiss permanent representative to the United Nations to discuss next steps in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the Karabakh conflict, with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen mediating the discussion.

Following the meeting Sarkisian and Aliyev held a one-on-one meeting for 45 minutes, according to a series of tweets by Vladimir Hakobyan, Sarkisian’s press secretary who posted a photo of the two leaders seated in the courtyard of the venue where the meeting took place.

Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev held a 45-minute one-on-one meeting on Oct. 16

Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev held a 45-minute one-on-one meeting on Oct. 16

During the meeting mediated by the co-chairs, the presidents agreed to take steps to intensify the negotiations and take additional steps to reduce tensions along the Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan borders, commonly referred to as the Line of Contact.

“The meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere,” read a joint statement issued following the meeting by the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.

“The Presidents agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact,” added the statement.

“The Co-Chairs expressed their satisfaction with these direct talks, which took place after a long interval. They remain ready to work with the sides on mediating a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a next step, the Co-Chairs will organize working sessions with the Ministers in the near future,” said the statement.

President Serzh Sarkisian briefs Armenian community members at the Armenian Embassy in Geneva on Oct. 16

President Serzh Sarkisian briefs Armenian community members at the Armenian Embassy in Geneva on Oct. 16

Shortly after the meetings, Sarkisian met with representatives of the Armenian community in Switzerland at that country’s Armenian Embassy.

“No concrete alternatives were agreed to regarding the [conflict] resolution process,” Sarkisian told the group of community members gathered at the Armenian Embassy.” But we have agreed to take measures to ease the tension so that we do not have losses on the frontlines. I must say that both the president of Azerbaijan and I are deeply concerned about that.”

“God willing [Aliyev] will always be think that way. He, too, understands the complexity of the problem just as I do, of course, but the problem is such that there will never be an easy solution. However, I wish to assure you that we do not see any such solution as may undermine Karabakh’s security in a way or form,” added Sarlisian.

“The only solution acceptable for us is that Karabakh be outside Azerbaijan. Never can any Armenian leader accept and implement any other solution whatsoever, and for that reason, we will do our utmost to develop Armenia by strengthening our country’s economy,” said Sarkisian.

The Artsakh government welcomed the Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting, saying that Artsakh’s direct participation in the talks would go a long way in ensuring long-term peace.

“The meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on October 16 is very important from the point of view of creating conditions for the activisation of the negotiation process, which was seriously damaged as a result of the aggression against Artsakh unleashed by Azerbaijan in April 2016,” said a statement issued by the Artsakh Foreign Ministry.

“We are convinced that one of the bases for ensuring progress in the negotiation process is the strict adherence to the agreements of 1994 and 1995, as well as the realization of the earlier reached agreements, in particular, the implementation of mechanisms of investigation of the incidents and the expansion of the Office of Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the increase of its monitoring capacities,” added the foreign ministry statement.

“We believe that the restoration of full-fledged talks with the direct participation of the Republic of Artsakh at all the stages should be another step on the way of achieving real progress in the settlement process of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict,” said the Artsakh foreign ministry.

Artsakh presidential spokesperson David Babayan also welcomed the meeting, adding that implementation of the Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements would go a long way in ensuring the security of the region.

“This is, in fact, the highest level which enables a discussion of the most complex issues, make decisions and maintain all those agreements that are being reached. Traditionally, two major issues are being discussed during these meetings: the first relates to the overall resolution of the conflict—a peaceful resolution, stability and maintaining peace and the OSCE Minsk Group format. The second aspect concerns more concrete issues. These are the Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements and the implementation of respective steps. Of course, Baku hinders this process, but these are the issues that should be on the agenda,” Babayan said, attaching importance to the fact that the superpowers are engaged in these meetings, as co-chairing countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“Concrete stance and steps are needed by the international community,” added Babayan saying that sooner or later Baku will have to come around and adhere to the decisions made by the mediating parties.

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