ATHENS (RFE/RL) —The United States, Russia and France on Tuesday renewed their calls for Armenia and Azerbaijan to iron out their remaining disagreements over a framework agreement to resolve the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.
The three nations spearheading the Karabagh peace process urged the conflicting parties to “complete this work as soon as possible” at the end of a two-day flurry of Karabagh-related diplomatic activity on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial conference in Athens.
Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov held talks there on Monday and Tuesday in addition to separate meetings with senior American, French and Russian diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. They were joined later on Tuesday by Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Bernard Kouchner of France and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.
In an ensuing joint statement read out by Lavrov, the five men noted the current “positive dynamic” in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. “They agreed that the increasing frequency of these meetings has significantly contributed to an enhanced dialogue between the parties and forward movement toward finalizing the
Basic Principles for the Peaceful Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, proposed in Madrid on November 29, 2007,” read the statement.
The statement said Nalbandian and Mammadyarov reaffirmed their countries’ stated “commitment to work intensively to resolve the remaining issues” and cut a framework deal based on the internationally recognized principles of non-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and self-determination of peoples.Earlier in the day, the European Union called for an “appropriate combination” of these principles through Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, the current holder of the EU presidency. “We call again upon Armenia and Azerbaijan to take the necessary decisions to achieve a breakthrough with the endorsement of the Basic Principles proposed in Madrid on November 29, 2007,” Bildt told the OSCE conference.
Kouchner also mentioned the Karabagh dispute in his speech at the gathering, speaking of “significant progress” in the negotiating process. “Now is the time to make decisions and I exhort the two parties to seize upon the chance offered to them and finalize, without delay, the principles of settlement proposed to them,” he said.