French Envoy Looks Forward to Armenian-Azeri Talks

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–France’s chief Nagorno Karabakh conflict negotiator, Bernard Fassier met with Arkady Ghukasian, the president of Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR), in Yerevan on Monday, indicating the two would meet again. Ghukasian said that the talks focused on NKR’s involvement in the peace process– something Azerbaijan strongly opposes. "Mr. Fassier clearly understands that this problem can not be settled without Karabakh, and I’m sure [the three mediators] are working and will continue to work in that direction," he said. "If Azerbaijan wants a settlement it will have to negotiate with the Karabakh side." Fassier, who co-chairs the OSCE Minsk Group with senior US and Russian diplomats visited Yerevan and Baku to discuss last-minute preparations for talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on Wednesday. But Ghukasian was pessimistic about the results of those talks. "I don’t expect anything serious from the March 14 meeting," he told journalists. "The discussions in Yerevan and Baku were useful and constructive, and I very much hope that the Geneva negotiations will also be constructive," he told a news conference. Oskanian said last week that the mediators expect him and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov to set up another face-to-face meeting of their presidents shortly after Armenia’s May 12 parliamentary elections. The mediators hope the two presidents will agree on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement before the start of campaigning for presidential elections that are due to be held both in Armenia and Azerbaijan next year.

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