Baku Expects ‘Progress’ in Next Sarkisian-Aliyev Summit

BAKU (Combined Sources)—Authorities in Azerbaijan are expecting progress in the internationally mediated Nagorno-Karabkh peace talks to follow a scheduled meeting in Moscow between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan later this month, Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told reporters on Monday.  

“We hope to achieve certain progress in the Karabakh conflict settlement in the Moscow meeting with the assistance of the Minsk Group,” Mammadyarov said in Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja. “But it will depend on the Armenian leadership, as well.”

Mammadyarov said the two presidents would build on progress made last June when they met in St. Petersburg under the auspices of the US, French, and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

He met with his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian in Paris on June 26, where they discussed the possibility of such a meeting during six-hour talks with the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.

Mammadyarov added that the Aliyev and Sarkisian will also “continue to discuss certain topics upon which they have yet to agree.”

The Azeri Foreign Minister’s remarks follow statements by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev over the weekend alleging that the two sides had already agreed that Armenia would begin the withdrawal of defense forces from the liberated territories surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Aliyev also signaled that Karabakh would effectively be cut off from Armenia, adding that these principles have been agreed upon without any discussion on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Minsk Group hopes that Aliyev and Sarkisian will remove the final obstacles to signing a framework peace accord when they meet later this month. The three Minsk Group co-Chairs–Yuri Merzlyakov (Russia), Bernard Fassier (France) and Matthew Bryza (US)–will arrive in Yerevan on Wednesday, July 8 to prepare the groundwork for the upcoming summit. The co-chairs are expected to meet with Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

Commenting on the upcoming meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told the Azeri Trend News Agency on Monday that Washington attaches great importance to the Aliyev-Sarkisian meeting and expects “progress very soon” in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks.

“I would be reluctant to put a timetable on when I think this problem would be resolved, but I do think there recently has been progress,” said Godron. “There are some basic understandings of the basic principles that would be necessary to resolve this conflict, and I believe all of the parties would benefit if there were a resolution of the conflict.”

Gordon said the United States stands ready to help in any way that it can.

Late last week, Karabakh’s President, Bako Sahakian, told journalists in Yerevan that there can be no breakthrough in the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan so long as Karabakh is prevented from participating in the process.

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