France Urges Progress On Karabakh, Turkish-Armenian Ties

PARIS (RFE/RL)–French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged more intensive efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a quick implementation of the Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements during talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, on Wednesday.

The two leaders met in Paris on the second day of Sarkisian’s official visit to France. None of them made any public statements after the meeting. Their joint news briefing scheduled beforehand was canceled for unknown reasons.

Official Armenian and French sources said the talks touched upon bilateral relations, the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

A spokesman for Sarkozy said the French leader called for “developing the dynamic” of the ongoing work on the “basic principles” of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.

The mediators hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan will iron out their remaining differences over the proposed framework agreement in the course of this year. Armenian leaders have indicated, however, that a breakthrough in the peace talks is still not on the horizon.

Sarkozy, according to his spokesman, urged the conflicting parties to reinvigorate their search for a mutually acceptable deal. “One should take the necessary steps that will lead to a lasting peace and would be beneficial not only for the two countries but the whole region,” he was cited as telling Sarkisian.

Sarkozy was also reported to say that Armenia and Turkey should have “the courage to move forward and use this historic opportunity” to normalize their relations. The spokesman said he specifically stressed that a speedy ratification of their fence-mending “protocols” is expected not only by France but the broader international community.

Sarkisian’s office gave no details of the two presidents’ discussions on Karabakh and Turkey, in a written statement issued later in the day. It said only that Sarkozy praised the Armenian leader’s “efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability in the region.”

“Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed his country’s intention to develop relations with the Republic of Armenia in all directions and stressed that France has been and remains Armenia’s friend, always standing by its side,” read the statement. He also spoke of a “sincere sympathy towards Armenia and the Armenian people” existing France, it said.

Sarkisian, for his part, described France as his country’s “reliable partner and ally on the international stage. “President Sarkisian noted with satisfaction that French-Armenian relations are dynamically developing in all areas,” his office said.

The Elysee Palace spokesman said the two men discussed ways of boosting bilateral economic ties and welcomed in that regard the French telecom giant Orange’s recent entry into Armenia. He said France is not satisfied with the current volume of French-Armenian commercial contacts and hopes that they will increase in the near future.


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