EU Envoy Meets Karabakh President in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The European Union’s special representative to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, paid a brief visit to Yerevan on Friday to discuss efforts to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict with Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian. "I wouldn’t say it was a negotiation," he told reporters after the meeting with Ghukasian. "It was an exchange of opinions on overall situation in Karabakh and the negotiation process." Like other European and US officials, Semneby expressed hope that the conflicting parties will step up their protracted search for a mutually acceptable solution after the May 12 parliamentary elections in Armenia. "It is very important to build on progress that has been made in the negotiation process since the Minsk meeting [in November last year] between Armenian and Azeri presidents," he said. Asked whether he believes a framework peace accord can be reached before the end of this year, Semneby said: "I very much hope that that will be the case." The French, Russian and US mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group are pushing for the signing of such an accord before the start of campaigning for next year’s presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan. They hope to arrange yet another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit shortly after the upcoming vote. Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who is gearing up for both the parliamentary and presidential elections, on Thursday cast doubt on the success of those efforts. "I kind of doubt that those principles [of a peaceful settlement proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs] will be agreed on in 2007," Sarkisian said. According to Ghukasian, the parties are still apart on some key contentious issues, including the proposed referendum of self-determination in Nagorno Karabakh. "There isn’t a single issue on which there is a clear-cut agreement," he said after the meeting with the EU envoy.

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