The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in the Slovak capital of Bratislava on Wednesday to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process and after a reported three and a half hour meeting no concrete progress was registered.
Joining foreign ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov were the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov of Russia, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States, as well as Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
According to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, the meeting focused on assessing actions toward strengthening the ceasefire, establishing confidence-building measures and pledged to continue negotiations in early next year.
The task set forth by the Minsk Group Co-chairs is for the parties to prepare their respective populations for peace. A recent effort where journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh visited each country was deemed as a modest step toward the larger goal, but the sides stressed the need for other measures to bolster confidence between the sides.
Mnatsakanyan commented on his recent meeting in Yerevan with Artsakh Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan and, again emphasized Yerevan’s long-standing issue of including Artsakh in the negotiation process.
The foreign ministers did not comment about the meeting, but each presented his viewpoint during their respective addresses at the OSCE Foreign Ministerial Summit, on the margins of which their meeting took place.
“My meeting yesterday with my Armenian counterpart lasted for three and a half hours,” Mammadyarov said in his presentation at the conference. “These were quite tough negotiations. Unfortunately, we still have unresolved problems.”
While Mnatsakanyan did not directly address the meeting, he presented a seven-point assessment of Yerevan’s approach to the peace process. He also added that more progress in talks is hampered by what he called Azerbaijan’s “maximalist positions” and “preconditions.”
Mnatsakanyan pointed to a “memorandum” outlining Baku’s official position on the conflict resolution which was circulated at the OSCE Foreign Ministerial conference. In the document, Baku was demanding the “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh region and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.” It also says that Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population can only be granted “the status of self-rule … within Azerbaijan.”
In his remarks, Mnatsakanyan said that the security of the people could not be compromised and must be guaranteed, urging Baku to recognize the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh.
“Azerbaijan must assume direct commitment to recognition of the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh by way of legally binding free expression of the will of the people living in Nagorno-Karabakh, the outcome of which should have no limitation,” said Mnatsakanyan.
“The government of Armenia will never engage in any activities which can violate the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to freely determine their political status or can deprive them of the ownership of this process,” he added.
Prior to meeting Mammadyarov on Wednesday, Mnatsakanyan met separately with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.