Russia Says Karabakh Deal is Close

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko, 03Jul2009

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko, 03Jul2009

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)—Armenia and Azerbaijan are close to a deal to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko told a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

He said international mediators from France, Russia and the United States will be presenting Armenia and Azerbaijan with an updated draft of a peace proposal to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“Considering the discussions held in the past two years by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairs have prepared an updated version of the Madrid document, which will be presented to the parties in the near future,” Nesterenko said, without mentioning an exact date.

The so-called Madrid document, which envisages a gradual resolution of the conflict and the return to Azerbaijan of liberated territories connecting Armenia and Karabakh, were submitted to Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2007 by the US, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. The document, also known as the basic principles, calls for a referendum to determine the status of Karabakh after Azeri refugees are allowed to return.

According to Nestrenko, if the current pace of talks can be sustained, a peace deal will be ready soon. “If the positive dynamic in the negotiation process achieved this year is maintained next year, it will be possible to hope for a quick and complete coordination of the basic principles of the settlement and their development on the basis of a peace agreement,” he said.

Nestrenko was asked to comment on reports that Azerbaijan was unhappy with the work of the Minsk Group. He said, “The Russian side did not receive any sign of discontent from the Azerbaijani leadership about the actions of the OSCE Minsk Group and the mediation efforts of its co-chairs.”Russia has instead “received repeated thanks for these efforts,” he added.

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