Azerbaijan Cancels Crucial Talks on Karabagh

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev has canceled his upcoming crucial meeting with his Armenian counterpart. Armenia had hoped the talks would serve to establish whether the Mountainous Karabagh conflict could be resolved in the foreseeable future.

The decision was announced late Wednesday amid renewed Azeri criticism of the American–French–and Russian mediators. President Ilham Aliyev again accused the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of doing little to achieve a peaceful settlement of the dispute. He also warned ally Turkey against reopening its border with Armenia.

Guliyev said that he will not travel to the Czech capital Prague to meet with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian because the agenda of the talks scheduled for Monday has not been specified.

There was no immediate reaction from the Minsk Group. Russia’s top Karabagh negotiator Yuri Merzlyakov–was quoted as only telling an Azeri television channel that the talks initiated by the mediators will not take place because "one of the parties" decided so. The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed the information on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan declined a comment–though Hamlet Gasparian–told RFE/RL that the ministry has received no written notification from the mediators.

Oskanian said last week that the Prague meeting should clarify whether Baku is ready to revive Karabagh agreemen’s reached by the Armenian and Azeri presidents in Paris and in Key West three years ago. He added that Aliyev would have to negotiate only with Karabagh Armenia’s if he finally backpedals from those agreemen’s.

Aliyev–however–reiterated Baku’s vehement denial of any peace deals cut by his late father and predecessor Heydar at the Paris and Key West talks. "There was and there is no agreement," he told journalists in Baku. "This is just another lie circulated by the Armenian side."

Aliyev went on to attack the Minsk Group–which he said has done "nothing positive" since being set up in 1992. "When we are told that the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia’should reach and agreement themselves and the co-chairs will support whatever they decide–that is not mediation," he said.

Azeri leaders have repeatedly complained that peace proposals put forward by the mediators in recent years would not return Karabagh to Azeri rule. Aliyev declared recently that his oil-rich nation is not in a hurry to agree to a compromise deal because he believes it is the Armenia’s who suffer more from the unresolved conflict.

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