YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian accused Azerbaijan of distorting the existing international plan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh as he met the American, French and Russian mediators in Paris late on Tuesday.
Nalbandian was expected to clarify Armenia’s position on the recently modified “basic principles” of a Karabakh settlement put forward by the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
According to Armenian public radio, Nalbandian called on the co-chairs to immediately incorporate the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the peace process and stressed that no resolution to the conflict could be possible without Stepanakert’s full participation in the negotiation process.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the meeting focused on “the latest developments” in the Karabakh negotiating process and the mediators’ plans to pay another visit to the conflict zone this month. It said they briefed Nalbandian on the results of their March 5 talks in the French capital with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
A ministry statement quoted Nalbandian as protesting against Baku’s “continuing attempts to distort the essence and meaning of the negotiating process” which he said are hampering further progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. The statement gave no further details.
The Armenian minister may have referred to purported details of the modified basic principles which Mammadyarov divulged on Monday. In particular, the latter spoke of a timetable for the transfer of control to Azerbaijan of seven liberated Armenian districts surrounding Karabakh proper and the return of Azerbaijani displaced persons.
Mammadyarov said nothing about mechanisms for determining Karabakh’s status, the main bone of contention, favored by the mediators. He implicitly claimed that their proposals do not enable Karabakh to win international recognition of its independence.
According to Armenian officials, Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would be able to vote for independence or reunification with Armenia in a future referendum proposed by the mediators.
The Azeri Foreign Ministry dismissed Nalbandian’s criticism on Wednesday, describing his calls to include Karabakh in the peace talks as “not serious.”
Speaking to reporters in Baku, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov said Azerbaijan considers any discussions with the leadership of Nagorno Karabakh “contradicts to the format of the OSCE Minsk Group.”
“According to the regulation of the OSCE Minsk group, the negotiations involve only Armenia and Azerbaijan as parties. The Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno Karabakh have a status of concerned parties in the process of negotiations. If this format on the conflict settlement is considered acceptable by the international community, then the Armenian side must reconcile with it,” Polukhov said.