Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan both called their first official meeting Friday in Vienna “constructive,” saying that the talks that reportedly lasted more than three hours, brought new impetus to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks.
Pashinyan called the meeting “productive” during a briefing with the Austrian-Armenian community Friday evening, saying the while there was no earthshattering outcome, it served as an impetus to continue the Karabakh peace talks.
“I can’t say that was any revolutionary or earthshattering developments in the negotiation process, however it is important that a process has begun whereby we have the opportunity to discuss our agenda, perspectives and issues,” said Pashinyan at the gathering with the Armenian community. He explained that he was able to address the issues that he put forth during a joint meeting of the Armenia and Artsakh security councils in Stepanakert earlier this month, as well as points he had made during an extensive press conference last week.
During a press conference last week, Pashinyan said that vision that he has articulated, which include Artsakh’s participation in the talks, were meant as an invitation for a “dialogue” in the negotiations. In Stepanakert, he called for a clarification of the principles, based on which the negotiations have proceeded, explaining that in the past 10 years different interpretations of those principles have guided the peace process.
On Friday, he told the Armenian community of Austria that when he says that the talks with Aliyev were “positive,” it did not mean that one side emerged victorious while another a loser, expressing his belief that such a mindset has impeded the conflict resolution process.
“It is natural that each side has its own perspective [in the talks],” said Pashinyan. “This conflict has deep roots. The most important thing to register is that we [each side] understands that we are not dealing with a simple issue. This is a serious matter and a deep concern.”
“They [talks] were held in a constructive atmosphere. It was the first official meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders after a long pause … The meeting is important because it gave a new start to the negotiations on the issue [Nagorno-Karabakh],” Aliyev, in his turn, told reporters in Vienna.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, who mediated the meeting, also found the talks productive in an announcement they issued immediately following the talks, which were held in the iconic Bristol Hotel in the heart of Vienna.
The co-chairs convened the meeting with the participation of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov, as well as Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, following which, Pashinyan and Aliyev held one-on-one talks.
“The meeting took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere and provided an opportunity for the two leaders to clarify their respective positions. They exchanged views about several key issues of the settlement process and ideas of substance,” said the Minsk Group co-chairs, Igor Popov of Russia Stéphane Visconti of France and Andrew Schofer of the U.S.in their announcement.
“The two leaders underlined the importance of building up an environment conducive to peace and taking further concrete and tangible steps in the negotiation process to find a peaceful solution to the conflict,” added the Co-chairs’ statement.
“Recalling their conversation in Dushanbe, the leaders recommitted to strengthening the ceasefire and improving the mechanism for direct communication. They also agreed to develop a number of measures in the humanitarian field,” explained the co-chairs referring to the fist unofficial talks Pashinyan and Aliyev held in November in the Kirgiz capital.
“The Prime Minister and President instructed their Ministers to meet with the Co‑Chairs again in the near future. They also agreed to continue their direct dialogue,” explained the co-chairmen about next steps in the Karabakh negotiation process.