YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s leadership has reaffirmed its three conditions for resuming peace talks with Azerbaijan following heavy fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh that put the two countries on the brink of a full-scale war.
“We want to receive guarantees that Azerbaijan will again not attempt to the resolve the [Karabakh] conflict by military means,” Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said on Friday.
“We are saying that a mechanism should be put in place for investigating armed incidents on the [Karabakh] Line of Contact so that we can determine who provoked them,” Baghdasarian told reporters. Armenia also wants international mediators to publicly hold Baku responsible for ceasefire violations in the conflict zone, he said, according to the Armenpress news agency.
Yerevan hardened its position following the April 2 Azerbaijani offensive in Karabakh that resulted in the worst clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in over two decades. The United States, Russia and France — the three world powers trying to broker a solution to the dispute — have urged the conflicting parties to restart peace talks as soon as possible in order to prevent another escalation.
President Serzh Sarkisian listed the three conditions in an interview with the Bloomberg news agency published on Monday. He said it is “unreasonable” for Yerevan to unconditionally negotiate with Baku because the latter can launch fresh offensive military operations “at any moment.”
The HHK reiterated this stance late on Thursday after a meeting of its governing body headed by Sarkisian. “We are committed to a solely political solution the conflict,” said the spokesman for Sarkisian’s party, Eduard Sharmazanov. “But in order to resume negotiations, we need to have confidence-building measures, targeted statements [by the mediating powers] and security guarantees from the international community.”
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov criticized the Armenian preconditions. “You can’t solve the problem by setting conditions,” the APA news agency quoted him as saying.
“If they think in Yerevan that they can drag out the [peace] process with those conditions, it’s a primitive approach,” Mammadyarov told a news conference in Baku. “The process must move forward.”
The confidence-building measures demanded by the Armenian side have long been advocated by the U.S., Russian and French mediators. Baku has opposed them until now.
Visiting Armenia early week, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should deploy observers and gunfire-locator systems along the Karabakh “line of contact” to minimize truce violations there. Desir discussed the matter with Mammadyarov and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev when he proceeded to Baku from Yerevan.
It is not yet clear whether the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will try to organize Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in the coming weeks. Mammadyarov said on Friday that he may meet with the three diplomats in mid-May.