YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian underlined on Wednesday his apparent differences with the political leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh when he reiterated that international mediators’ existing plan to end the conflict with Azerbaijan is largely acceptable to Armenia.
Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as telling a visiting senior European Union diplomat that the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the United States, Russia and France “can become the linchpin of the conflict’s resolution.”
“The president noted that unfortunately Azerbaijan does not accept those principles even though it claims the opposite,” the office said in a statement on Sarkisian’s meeting with Herbert Salber, the EU’s new special representative for the South Caucasus.
“In the words of Serzh Sarkisian, this is the reason why Azerbaijan resorts to provocations, heightens tension on the Line of Contact and constantly rejects confidence-building measures,” added the statement.
Salber visited Baku and discussed the Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the start of his regional tour last week. Aliyev reportedly accused the Armenian side of adopting a “non-constructive position” in peace talks and “ignoring” statements made by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The co-chairs’ Basic Principles cited by Sarkisian call for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all of the seven Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh that are fully or partly controlled by Karabakh Armenian forces. That would be followed by a referendum in which Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would determine the territory’s internationally recognized status.
Aliyev and Sarkisian came close to cutting a peace deal along these lines in 2011. The Karabakh negotiation process has essentially been deadlocked since then.
Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh prime minister, said last week that the framework peace accord drafted by the mediators is “certainly unacceptable” to the Karabakh Armenians because it requires significant territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.