YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will hold their next keenly anticipated meeting in Munich this weekend, according to officials in Yerevan and Baku.
Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said late on Wednesday that the American, French and Russian mediators are about to make an official statement to that effect. “I can confirm that,” he told the Armenian parliament.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov similarly said on Thursday that Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian will meet for the sixth time this year “in the coming days.” Citing an unnamed diplomatic source in Baku, the Azerbaijani Trend news agency said the talks will take place in the southern German city of Munich on Sunday.
The French, Russian and U.S. diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group made no such announcements as of Thursday evening. They said after a visit to Baku and Yerevan early this month that the two presidents accepted their proposal to meet again “before the end of November at a time and place to be confirmed.”
“Both presidents reiterated their commitment to continue their discussions, with the objective to make further progress toward reaching an agreement on the basic principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the mediators said in a joint statement.
Their push for yet another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit suggests that the three mediating powers still hope to achieve a breakthrough in their protracted search for Karabakh peace before the end of this year. They hoped that Aliyev and Sarkisian will iron out their remaining differences over the basic principles” at their last meeting held in Moldova a month ago.
The two leaders clearly failed to do that, with Aliyev describing those talks as “unproductive.” His foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, claimed that the Armenian side has toughened its position in the negotiating process, having been emboldened by progress in the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Trend quoted Azimov as saying that Baku therefore expects Yerevan to change its “position from the last meeting.” “Azerbaijan is leaving room for compromises. We now stand in the middle of the bridge and expect Armenia to cross its share of the path,” he said.
Azimov’s Armenian counterpart, Shavarsh Kocharian, hit back at the comments later in the day. “The Azerbaijani side has made a habit of issuing a statements before a meeting of the presidents which is aimed at thwarting progress expected from that meeting,” he said in a statement.