PARIS—The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, met in Paris on Friday to continue negotiations on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Peace talks started after the two sides made headway in a meeting in Nov. 2013, in Vienna.
The meeting comes following a month of Azeri efforts to escalate tensions, with Azeri forces having made several violations of the ceasefire, resulting in the death and injury of Armenian troops and citizens.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, Jacques Faure of France, and James Warlick of the United States) also met with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Paris.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group expressed deep concern over “continued violence” along the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia, but failed to condemn Baku.
Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, also participated in the meeting.
The foreign ministers and the Co-Chairs discussed issues to advance the peace process, building on the Nov. 19, 2013, summit in Vienna, which was followed by the Dec. 5 ministerial meeting in Kiev.
The ministers reiterated their willingness to continue working towards a peaceful, negotiated settlement.
Ambassador Kasprzyk briefed the Co-Chairs on recent developments on the border and the line of contact.
The Co-Chairs expressed concern over continued violence in the region, and stressed that recent incidents undermine negotiations and diminish the prospects for peace. They called on the sides to fully and unconditionally respect the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
The Co-Chairs plan to travel to the region in the coming weeks to continue talks with the presidents of two countries.
Meanwhile, speaking at a meeting with officials at the Armenian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian discussed the Paris meeting and the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reports.
Sarkisian argued that a renewed war is unlikely to break out, dismissing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s regular threats to win back Karabakh and surrounding territories.
“I cannot say for certain that there will be no hostilities because in our country at least two persons — the president and the defense minister — should probably think that hostilities could break out as early as tomorrow,” he said. “But I still do not see a resumption of hostilities in the foreseeable future. However, we will have to fight if we are forced to.”
Sarkisian claimed that Armenia has been strengthening its armed forces and is currently engaged in a major military buildup despite having a much smaller defense budget than Azerbaijan. “We are not lagging behind anybody in that regard,” he said. “True, the allocations set in our budget are not very telling, they do not reach billions [of dollars,] but rest assured that our army does not really lack weapons and ammunition.”