YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian sounded an optimistic note about this week’s meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan as he wrapped up an official visit to Moscow at the weekend.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev and his recently elected Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, are scheduled to meet for the first time in the Russian city of Saint-Petersburg Friday on the sidelines of a summit of former Soviet republics. They will try to make further progress towards finalizing a framework peace agreement drafted by US, Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
"We hope that the upcoming meeting in Saint-Petersburg between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will allow for the continuation of negotiations and that the two presidents will issue corresponding instructions to their foreign ministers," Nalbandian said in an interview with Russia’s Vesti 24 television. "We are optimistic because there is really an opportunity to resolve the conflict."
Nalbandian reiterated Yerevan’s overall acceptance of the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the mediators, which have been working toward a settlement of the Karabakh conflict since 1997.
"We are ready to continue negotiations on the basis of those proposals," he said. "We believe that those proposals are a good basis for finding a solution."
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian made similar assurances during his Friday talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Minsk Group plan, formally submitted to the conflicting parties last November, envisages a gradual solution to the dispute that would delay agreement on Karabakh’s status. Aliev and Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian apparently accepted most of the proposed principles, leading the mediators to state earlier this year that an Armenian-Azerbaijani framework peace deal could be cut in the course of this year.
However, the peace process has been stalled since last year and Azerbaijan continues to threaten to use its growing military budget for an all out invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met in France last month in an effort to kick-start it. Both men described the talks as productive.
While in Russia, Nalbandian met with the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Chairman of the CIS affairs commission of Russia’s Parliament Alexey Ostrovski.
During his meetings with Bordyuzha, Nalbandian discussed Armenia’s coming chairmanship of the former soviet security alliance. Armenia’s chairmanship, he noted, will consolidate the country’s partnership with the other member states.
Nalbandian also met with a number of Armenian organizations headquartered in Moscow. He met with the chairman of the Union of Russian Armenia’s to discuss the development of Armenia-Diaspora ties, while his meeting with the Co-Chairman of the Armenia 2020 initiative centered on Armenia’s economic development. Nalbandian also visited "Armenia" pavilion in the Pan-Russian exhibition center.
The Armenian Foreign Minister also visited the Moscow International Relations State University where he graduated from thirty years ago. The Foreign Ministries Press Office told Armenpress that Nalbandian delivered a speech on Armenian Foreign Policy to the university’s faculty and students.