MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will reportedly meet on Friday for further talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Vienna, the Russian Interfax news agency reported that the meeting will take place in Austria’s capital. Armenia and Azerbaijan did not immediately confirm the information.
That Aliyev and Pashinyan will travel to Vienna later this week was announced by Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen’s office earlier in the day. It said that Van der Bellen will hold separate talks with the two men on Friday.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders most recently met on January 22 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. They also talked during the summits of former Soviet republics held in September and December.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have similarly held a series of lengthy negotiations in the past several months, fuelling more speculation about major progress towards a resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group said on March 1 that Aliyev and Pashinyan have agreed to meet again soon. But they gave no dates of the meeting.
Pashinyan afterwards sounded pessimistic about chances of a breakthrough in the protracted peace process. He said that Baku has not reciprocated Yerevan’s stated readiness for mutual compromise and continues to threaten a military solution to the dispute. He also renewed his calls for Karabakh’s direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, saying that he does not have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Karabakh Armenians.
On March 14, Aliyev denounced those calls as an “attempt to block the negotiations process.” Pashinyan countered a few days later that his insistence on Karabakh becoming a third negotiating party is “not a precondition.”
In another joint statement issued earlier in March, the mediators urged the parties to avoid “demanding unilateral changes to the format without agreement of the other party or indicating readiness to renew active hostilities.”