Oskanian Says No ‘Ulterior Motives’ for Not Attending Meeting

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Thursday that no "ulterior motives" exist for his decision to skip a new round of Mountainous Karabagh peace talks–stressing that he was simply too busy to travel to Frankfurt on April 27. He also said the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are tentatively scheduled to meet in Warsaw later this month.

The French–Russian and U.S. mediators were due to hold in Frankfurt more "proximity talks" with Oskanian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov–but met only with the latter instead.

"My schedule for that day was filled with many meetings [in Yerevan]," Oskanian told journalists. "There were no ulterior motives. We have no problem with meeting the co-chairs and Mammadyarov. We are always ready [to meet them]."

Oskanian said he never promised the mediators to attend the Frankfurt meeting because "the date was unacceptable to me."They knew that in advance," he added.

While in Frankfurt–Mammadyarov commented tartly on Oskanian’s absence. "He is probably again ill," he said–referring to Oskanian’s illness that was the official reason for the cancellation of their March 2 meeting in Prague. The two men have not had face-to-face encounters since then.

"We saw no need for a meeting of the ministers," Oskanian explained. "The co-chairs didn’t insist on it probably because they too realized that the ministers have done all they could possibly do and that the next step has to be taken by the presidents."

Oskanian added that Presidents Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliyev are now likely to meet in Warsaw on the sidelines of a Council of Europe summit scheduled for May 16-17.

Oskanian did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Kocharian and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow or at the Warsaw summit. "There are no agreemen’s at this point," he said. "Neither the Armenian nor the Turkish side has applied for such a meeting. We should wait and see."

"It could be–but nothing is planned," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was reported to say in Ankara.


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