STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–Nagorno Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian held a two-hour meeting with co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group Nikolay Gribkov of Russia–Philippe de Suremain of France and Rudolf Perina of US in Stepanakert on March 10. The co-chairs are touring Armenia–Azerbaijan and Karabakh in a bid to give a new fresh breath to the stalled talks on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The meeting was also attended by First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Trubnikov and Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian.
The sides exchanged their views on the situation around the negotiating process and prospects of settling the Karabakh problem. President Arkady Ghoukassian described Azerbaijan’s position as non-constructive–which leads the peace process to an impasse. He said the co-chairs of the Minsk Group should be more insistent in getting the Azeri side to withdraw from its hard-line and unrealistic position in regards to Nagorno Karabakh.
The sides shared the opinion that ignoring the actual configuration of the negotiating process may delay the prospect of early settlement. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs emphasized that Nagorno Karabakh is a reality that essentially impacts the situation in the entire region and it is impossible to get a durable and long-lasting peace without considering the opinion of Nagorno Karabakh’s authorities and people. In this connection–the mediators said that they would spare no effort to get the negotiating process back on track in its full format.
The OSCE officials also positively assessed the ongoing processes in Nagorno Karabakh–which are aimed at democratizing the internal political life and prevent Azerbaijan’s unfolded anti-Armenian propaganda from eliciting the international response it strives for.
Saying that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are guarantors of the protection of interests of the Karabakh side–the mediators expressed their readiness to assist Nagorno Karabakh more broadly and comprehensively its position to the countries and international organizations concerned.
According to Ghoukassian–Baku’s evasion to start negotiating with Stepanakert is one of the major obstacles for achieving peace. "The OSCE Minks group brokers believe that no peace deal could be achieved with the accord of Karabakh authorities and its people–but today it is hard to say when Karabakh will get directly involved into the negotiating process," he said.
Earlier this week–Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev reiterated Baku’s unhappiness with the recent Minsk Group proposals–saying the OSCE is unwilling to uphold his country’s territorial integrity. Guliev protested to the OSCE’s visiting chairman-in-office–Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama–that the co-chairs want Azerbaijan to take into account the status quo and accept Karabakh’s de facto independence.
During the Baku talks it was mentioned that since the meetings of both presidents have grown rare–it is desirable that the negotiation process to be conducted on permanent bases–and that the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia appoint representatives for the participation in the negotiations. Commenting on the attitude of the Azerbaijani authorities to this suggestion–first deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Vyacheslav Trubnikov indicated that the suggestion was widely accepted.
In related news–Armenian President Robert Kocharian held a meeting with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs on March 9. Issues concerning the enlarging of the negotiation format–as well as the current situation of the Karabakh conflict settlement were discussed.
After their meeting–the co-chairs expressed satisfaction with the meeting results–and advised not to expect revolutionary or dramatic suggestions. Russian co-chair Nikolay Gribkov stated that there is no step which would enable the Karabakh conflict settlement in a single day. "We do not have magic sticks–and after all–to find a solution to such a complicated problem as the Karabakh one is the same as to square a circle–in mathematics," Gribkov said.