U.S. and French mediators have visited Baku and Yerevan to explore the possibility of resuming Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks following the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The two co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Groups traveled to the region to follow up on a December 3 statement by Russia’s and France’s foreign ministers and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “take advantage of the current ceasefire to negotiate a lasting and sustainable peace agreement.”
The statement also urged the conflicting parties to meet the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group and “commit to substantive negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues in accordance with an agreed timetable.”
The Russian co-chair, Igor Popov, did not join his French and U.S. counterparts, Stephane Visconti and Andrew Schofer, in meeting with Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s leaders. Moscow gave no reason for Popov’s conspicuous absence. It was represented at the talks by Russian diplomats based in Baku and Yerevan.
According to an Armenian government statement, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian discussed with the visiting mediators on Monday ways of restarting peace process more than one month after Russia brokered an agreement to stop the war in Karabakh.
The statement cited Pashinian as saying that the United States, Russia and France should resume their joint efforts to achieve a “comprehensive settlement” of the Karabakh conflict. He stuck to the official Armenian line that Karabakh’s predominantly ethnic Armenian population must be able to exercise its right to self-determination as part of that settlement.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with Schofer and Visconti on Saturday. He reiterated that Baku essentially resolved the long-running conflict during the six-week war which resulted in sweeping Azerbaijani territorial gains.
Aliyev again blamed Pashinian for the war, saying that the Armenian leader “ruined the negotiations with provocative actions and statements.” He also lambasted the Minsk Group, saying that it has failed to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.