Karabakh Leader Says Conflict Settlement Unlikely Anytime Soon

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis welcomed Armenia’s ongoing dialogue with Turkey and sounded optimistic about the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Friday as she visited Yerevan in her capacity as chairwoman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s President, Bako Sahakian, asserted, however, the conflict is unlikely to be settled anytime soon.

Speaking to journalists after meeting with the Greek leader, Sahakian was far more realistic than Bakoyannis about peace prospects. “I don’t expect that we will register such success in the course of this year,” he said. “Not just this year but any other time. We can never anticipate a breakthrough as long as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic does not participate in the process.”

The issue was high on the agenda of Bakoyannis’s talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. She also met Sahakian in Yerevan late on Thursday.

“[Armenian-Azerbaijani] talks are at a critical point and I am encouraged by the political will expressed by both sides and the Minsk Group’s commitment to bring about positive results,” Bakoyannis told a news conference.

She announced that Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev will again meet soon to try to “build on this momentum.” “We are optimistic that the meeting of the two presidents, which will take place in Moscow, will make progress on the issue,” she said.

International mediators acting under the aegis of the OSCE’s Minsk Group hope that Aliyev and Sarkisian will remove the final obstacles to signing a framework peace accord when they meet later this month.

Bakoyannis also discussed with the Armenian leaders other regional security issues and the rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey. “Armenia is an important country for stability in the South Caucasus,” she said. “While continuing political reforms at home, it has begun a sensitive dialogue with Turkey, it has demonstrated maturity and self-confidence that larger and stronger countries often miss.”

Nalbandian stood by his earlier assurances that the Turkish-Armenian dialogue may still yield tangible results despite recent statements by Turkish leaders. “We have reached some agreements to normalize relations and open the border without any preconditions,” he said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have repeatedly stated in recent months that Ankara will not establish diplomatic relations and open the Turkish-Armenian border until the Karabakh conflict is resolved.

Analysts say the recent announcements from Ankara are an attempt to leverage talks with Armenia to give Turkey, Azerbaijan’s staunch ally, a foothold in the Minsk peace process.


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