St. Petersburg Karabakh talks deemed ‘useful,’ ‘important’

By Asbarez | Wednesday, 22 June 2016

YEREVAN, STEPANAKERT—Reaction to Monday’s Karabakh talks held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents and mediated by their Russian counterparts were deemed “useful” and “important” by officials in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, according to official statements.

Representatives of France and Russia, who are co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group also characterized the talks between presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia, Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Vladimir Putin of Russia as a positive step toward peace.

“Today’s meeting was quite useful, and I can say with some caution that it was held in a constructive atmosphere,” Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told reporters on Monday, adding that since last month presidential meeting in Vienna and foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Azerbaijan’s rhetoric has demonstrated Baku’s unwillingness to adhere to agreements reached at those meetings.

“On some issues, the presidents came to an understanding that if there is agreement on them it will be possible to advance the negotiation process toward a conflict’s resolution,” added Nalbandian, who also announced that similar summits between the two presidents, as well as meetings between the two foreign ministers would continue.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov called the St. Petersburg talks “constructive.”

Following the meeting on Monday, the three presidents issued an announcement by which they pledged to increase the monitoring missions of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, as well as continuing to hold similar meetings on a more regular basis.

In Stepanakert, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic presidential spokesperson David Babayan was more cautious, saying that while the agreements reached at the St. Petersburg meeting were “important” a quick resolution to the conflict would be difficult given Azerbaijan’s stance.

“We have always said that this is a new direction for the conflict resolution process, which for some reason has been ignored for many years. I am speaking about the confidence building measures, such as enhancement of mechanisms to detect ceasefire violations that would identify the provoking side,” said Babayan.

He also said that the fact the presidents discussed the addition of monitoring missions along the Karabakh-Azebraijan border demonstrated commitment to bring the much-discussed issue to fruition.

Babayan was skeptical about Azerbaijan’s willingness to follow through on its agreements given its history of impeding the peace process.

He pointed to military exercises that were taking place during the St. Petersburg summit, saying that the Azerbaijani Army neglected to inform the corresponding agencies about the quantity and caliber of weapons used for the exercises, a sentiment echoed by Nalbandian during his briefing to reports on Monday.

“A country that violates international treaties can easily violate bilateral, trilateral or multilateral agreements. Therefore, we should be patient. This is a long process,” said Babayan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also deemed Monday’s talks constructive.