YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — U.S., Russian and French mediators met with President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan on Friday to discuss preparations for his upcoming negotiations with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev which they hope will revive the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Sarkisian’s press office said the meeting with the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group focused on “possibilities of pushing forward the process of a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, including issues related to organizing a meeting of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents.” It gave no details.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the mediators “continued discussions” on the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit at their separate talks with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian held earlier in the day.
Russia’s Igor Popov, France’s Stephane Visconti and Andrew Schofer of the United States will travel to Baku on Saturday. Aliyev and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said on Thursday that they too will discuss details of the planned summit with the three diplomats. “It seems to us that Armenia is returning to the negotiation process and that is a very important issue,” Aliyev was reported to tell visiting officials from the European Union.
The co-chairs already met with Nalbandian and Mammadyarov in New York late last month. In an ensuing joint statement, they expressed hope that the Aliyev-Sarkisian encounter will help the conflicting parties eventually “find compromise solutions to the remaining key settlement issues.”
The New York talks came just days after Aliyev and Sarkisian traded fresh accusations while addressing the UN General Assembly. The Azerbaijani leader also strongly criticized the international community for not helping Baku regain control over Karabakh. He similarly tweeted on Thursday that the Minsk Group “must exert more pressure on Armenia’s occupier regime.”
For his part, Sarkisian again voiced support for the mediating powers’ peace efforts when he met with Schofer separately on Thursday. The envoy, who took over as U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group in August, visited Karabakh earlier this week.