YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Defense Minister Serge Sargsian told a press conference on Tuesday that the Mountainous Karabagh conflict must be resolved through mutual concessions–but stressed that the population must choose that compromise. "The entire people will jointly decide what those concessions will be," he said.
In a statement issued on Friday–US–French–and Russian mediators said the peace process has reached a "sensitive juncture–where a first step towards an agreement?could be at hand." The statement by the three-co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group coincided with a new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks in London.
Underscoring their renewed optimism about peace prospects–the mediators urged the conflicting parties to "prepare their populations for a balanced negotiated agreement that will require compromise on both sides."
"There was a breakthrough at one point," Sargsian told reporters. "But I don’t find it appropriate to talk about it today because time for doing that hasn’t yet come. Push hasn’t yet come to shove. Once it comes–we will talk."
Sargsian repeated that the Armenian side is ready to withdraw from occupied territories in Azerbaijan in exchange for international "security guarantees" for Karabagh. "Karabagh cannot be subordinated to Azerbaijan," he explained. "A second guarantee would be that Karabagh can not exist as an enclave and must have a land border with the Republic of Armenia–as well as an ability to take part in progressive international processes."
"I have never felt any [international] pressure in any place," he said. "If there is any pressure–we face it as much as Azerbaijan does."