YEREVAN—Armenia welcomed a statement by the presidents of the US, France and Russia issued Thursday in Deauville, France, in which the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to finalize the “Basic Principles” of the Karabakh negotiations. On Friday, official Baku pointed fingers at Yerevan for delaying the process.
“The statement made today in the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Deauville by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, contains important messages and may become an impetus for the settlement of the issue,” said Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian in a statement posted on the ministry’s official Web site.
“Armenia has always been in support of the settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh through exclusively peaceful means and has repeatedly proven that in practice, therefore, it is clear to whom is addressed the unequivocal message of the statement in this regard,” added Nalbandian.
“Armenia has given a clear answer to the latest version of the basic principles proposed by the three Co-Chairs as a basis for the negotiations of the settlement. If Azerbaijan gives an unequivocal agreement, then it will be possible to register a progress in the process of the settlement. It is apparent to whom is addressed the message included in the statement in this regard, too,” concluded Nalbandian.
A senior aide to President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said Baku shares the sense of urgency of the three mediating powers. They claimed that Thursday’s joint statement by Presidents Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev heightened pressure on Armenia.
“It follows from the statement that Armenia must start the withdrawal of its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies.
“Unfortunately … Armenia continues to drag out that process and thereby impede the conflict’s peaceful resolution,” it said.
“As a matter of fact, the negotiating process has dragged on because of the Armenian side,” Novruz Mammadov, Aliyev’s chief foreign policy adviser, told Day.az.
Both the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry and Mammadov dwelled on only one element of the proposed settlement: the liberated territories surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. They did not mention other provisions such as a future referendum on the status of the disputed territory mainly populated by Armenians.
The Foreign Ministry statement only spoke of “determining the future status of that region within Azerbaijan.”