YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–International mediators met Armenian leaders in Yerevan on Friday to discuss preparations for next week’s OSCE summit in Kazakhstan which they hope will yield a breakthrough in their long-running efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group held similar talks in Baku on Thursday. They traveled to the region from Moscow, where they met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The latter hosted fresh negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers there on Monday.
The Moscow meetings further highlighted Russia’s key role in the latest international push for a Karabakh settlement. President Dmitry Medvedev hosted a face-to-face meeting of his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterpart in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan late last month.
Medvedev expressed hope afterwards that Baku and Yerevan would bridge their remaining differences on the “basic principles” of the conflict’s resolution proposed by the three mediating powers in time for the summit scheduled for December 1-2.
His “moderate optimism” was echoed by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov early this month. Mammadyarov said the conflicting parties could work out a “roadmap” to peace at the summit to be held in the Kazakh capital Astana.
“This meeting is very important and we must therefore seriously prepare for it,” Bernard Fassier, the Minsk Group’s French co-chair, was quoted by the Azerbaijani APA news agency as saying in Baku on Thursday.
The three co-chairs avoided making any public statements in Yerevan the next day. “It’s no use to speak to you before seeing your president,” Fassier told journalists after the mediators met with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
Nalbandian’s press office said they briefed him on the results of their Baku talks. “The interlocutors discussed the preparatory work for the meetings to be held in Astana,” it said in a short statement.
President Serzh Sarkisian’s office likewise mentioned the upcoming OSCE summit in a statement on the Armenian leader’s meeting with the visiting diplomats. But it gave no details.