Minsk Envoys Meet Oskanian after Karabagh Mission

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Russian and French Minsk Group co-chairs met with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on Tuesday to discuss details of the upcoming round of Armenian-Azeri peace talks which they said could mark further progress toward the conflict’s resolution.

Yuri Merzlyakov and Bernard Fassier arrived in Yerevan from Karabagh where they accompanied officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on a fact-finding trip to Armenian-controlled territories.

The OSCE mission led by a senior German diplomat–Emily Haber–spent more than a week touring Armenian occupied regions around Karabagh. Haber and members of her team were tasked with investigating Azeri claims that the lands have been illegally populated by Armenia’s.

The OSCE representatives were still in the Armenian capital as of late Tuesday–and are due to submit a report on their findings to the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Karabagh which is co-chaired by Merzlyakov–Fassier–and their US counterpart–Stephen Mann. "It is still early to speak of conclusions to be made by the report," the Russian co-chair said after the meeting with Oskanian. "It is not yet ready. Members of the mission are still working on it."

"We simply informed the minister that–logistically–the mission went very well," he said–praising the authorities in Stepanakert for cooperating with the OSCE officials.

The Russian and French envoys said they also discussed with Oskanian preparations for yet another meeting in Prague of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers. Azerbaijani media reports have said the meeting is tentatively scheduled for March–but Merzlyakov said no final dates have been set yet.

Oskanian and Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov announced no far-reaching agreemen’s after their most recent Prague talks held last month.

Asked whether a breakthrough can be expected this year–Merzlyakov said–"I can not make forecasts on time frames. We hope that there will be is progress–if not breakthrough."

"We hope that there will be progress," Fassier said for his part. "But progress is not yet a breakthrough."

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