Ashton spoke on Nagorno-Karabakh at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
She welcomed the fact that both parties have “re-committed themselves to the diplomatic process and to finding a peaceful solution” at their latest Russia-hosted talks, but stressed that the EU needed “to see more than that in the coming months.”
“The parties need to redouble their efforts to find an agreement before the end of this year. This would then happen before domestic priorities take over in 2012: elections in Armenia in 2012, and in Azerbaijan in 2013,” said Ashton.
Meanwhile, Russia, as one of the three conflict mediating powers, also urged progress in the peace talks as its foreign minister hosted his Armenian counterpart in Moscow.
“Today this process has reached the final stage. In fact, it is time for making decisions,” stressed Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s chief diplomat.
“This creates prerequisites for agreement around the basic principles,” said Lavrov, adding that President Medvedev had “analyzed the situation created after the Kazan summit and will soon make a decision about further steps.”
The Russian minister also reminded the sides about their commitment to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh exclusively by means of negotiations.
In another development, President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday had a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly focusing on the Karabakh peace process.
A terse statement released by Sarkisian’s press service said “the sides discussed issues pertaining to the current stage of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.”
No other details of the conversation were immediately released.