Co-Chairs Expect Verbal Agreement Between Sides Ahead of Elections

BAKU (Armenpress)–The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group from France, Russia, and the United States resumed their shuttle diplomacy Monday by visiting Azerbaijan. The move comes as an attempt to help Armenia and Azerbaijan hammer out a final agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement before the two countries’ presidential elections in February.
The Co-Chairs, Ambassadors Bernard Fassier of France, Yury Merzlyakov of Russia, and Matthew Bryza of the United States started their tour of the region from Baku on Sunday. The OSCE co-chairs Monday met with Azeri foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov and President Ilham Aliyev.
The co-chairs will be in Yerevan on January 15-18 and will visit Stepanakert on January 18-21. The co-chairs are also set to visit Tbilisi in Georgia on January 21-22.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, a co-chairman of the Minsk Group Matthew Bryza told journalists a day earlier that the mediators expect the Azeri and Armenian presidents to reach an oral agreement on the settlement before the presidential elections in both countries.
The U.S. diplomat also opposed attempts to equate the Nagorno-Karabakh and the Kosovo conflicts ‘since each of them is unique.’
The final version of the basic principles for peaceful settlement of the conflict developed by the peace brokers was handed to Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers at an OSCE ministerial council meeting in Madrid on November 29 for transmission to heads of states.
According to Azeri media reports, the document calls for a gradual resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict that would begin with the return of at least six of the seven Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh. The final stage is a referendum of self-determination on Karabakh’s future status.
Under the mandate of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the frontline at Aghdam will be monitored on January 16.
Azerbaijani APA news agency said the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are expected to accompany the Personal Representative of the Chairman in Office of the OSCE, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk during monitoring.

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