Kocharian Wants ‘More Active’ OSCE Mediation

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian told a visiting French envoy on Thursday that the recent killings of Armenian leaders have dealt a blow to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process–and urged France and other international mediators to help the conflicting parties resume dialogue.

Kocharian said the October 27 attack on the Armenian parliament has "slowed considerably" direct contacts between Armenia and Azerbaijan which raised hopes for a peace deal on Karabakh–the presidential press service reported. Meeting with France’s new representative in the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Jean-Jacques Gayard–Kocharian said Yerevan and Baku are ready to "continue the dialogue" but expect "more active" involvement from the mediators. France co-chairs the Minsk Group together with Russia and the United States.

The US had been pushing for a framework agreement on Karabakh in time for the OSCE’s summit in Istanbul scheduled for November 18. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott discussed the matter in Yerevan hours before gunmen’seized the parliament building–killing eight senior officials.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said a few days later that no major Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement will likely be signed in Istanbul.

Azeri President Heydar Aliyev was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying on Wednesday that the parties will only sign a declaration of principles of the Karabakh settlement.

Gayard told reporters that he hopes it will be an "encouraging document." He said the meeting with Kocharian was "extremely friendly and interesting."

Kocharian’s ability to give a fresh impetus to the Karabakh peace process is stymied by what is becoming a political crisis in Yerevan.

He has reportedly threatened to resign if his concerns about the composition of the new Armenian government are not addressed. But Gayard insisted that the Armenian president did not leave the impression of a man preparing to step down.

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