STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—Karabakh should take part in the ongoing peace process at a certain stage of the talks, new OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairman Igor Popov told reporters Thursday after talks with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian, reported news.am.
The Azeri foreign ministry was quick to comment with its spokesperson, Elkhan Polukhov, insisting that the so-called Azeri community of Karabakh would also be part of the talks.
“Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that at some stage both Armenian and Azeri communities of Nagorno-Karabakh will undoubtedly be involved in the negotiations on resolution of the Karabakh conflict to determine the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity,” said Polukhov.
After meeting is Yerevan with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, Popov traveled to Stepanakert and met with Sahakian. The two discussed a wide-range of issues including the imperative for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Karabakh’s socio-economic situation and progress in the reconstruction of the Stepanakert airport.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Foreign Minister Georgi Petrossian also took part in the meeting.
“I am in a mood to make every effort to have the conflict resolved as soon as possible,” Popov also told journalists afterwards, reported RFE/RL.
Popov paid his first visit to Armenia and Karabakh in his current capacity one week after accompanying the Minsk Group’s outgoing Russian co-chair, Yuri Merzlyakov, on a trip to Baku. The two diplomats were joined there by their U.S. counterpart, Robert Bradtke, and received by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
In a subsequent joint statement also signed by the group’s French co-chair, Bernard Fassier, the mediators spoke of “a new impetus to the advancement of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the Madrid Principles.” They said they will meet in Vienna early next month to brief the Minsk Group on the current status of the Karabakh peace process.