The presidents of the United States, France and Russia on Tuesday promised more joint efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to iron out their differences on a framework peace accord drafted by the three mediating powers.
“The parties to the conflict should not further delay making the important decisions necessary to reach a lasting and peaceful settlement,” Presidents Barack Obama, Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin said in a joint statement issued during a G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
“We regret that the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia did not take the decisive steps that our countries called for in the joint statement at Deauville on May 26, 2011,” they said.
The Deauville statement was issued by Obama and his then Russian and French counterparts, Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy, ahead of a key summit held by Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan in Kazan, Russia. Sarkisian and Aliyev were close to agreeing on the latest version of the Basic Principles.
The summit did not produce a breakthrough, however, with Armenian officials blaming the fiasco on last-minute changes in the text of the peace agreement demanded by Aliyev. The Azerbaijani side did not explicitly deny this.
Aliyev and Sarkisian pledged to accelerate the search for a mutually acceptable peace formula last January when they held fresh talks hosted by Medvedev in another Russian city, Sochi. However, prospects for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal have not increased since then and there are growing ceasefire violations in the conflict zone.
“We call upon the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to fulfill the commitment in their January 23, 2012 joint statement at Sochi to ‘accelerate’ reaching agreement on the Basic Principles for a Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” Obama, Hollande and Putin said. “As evidence of their political will, they should refrain from maximalist positions in the negotiations, respect the 1994 ceasefire agreement, and abstain from hostile rhetoric that increases tension.”
The three leaders added that their nations, which co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, “will continue to work closely with the sides” in trying to broker a peaceful settlement. “However, peace will depend ultimately upon the parties' willingness to seek an agreement based on mutual understanding, rather than one-sided advantage,” they warned.
Both Baku and Yerevan welcomed the statement, saying that it is in tune with their positions on the Karabakh dispute.
“Armenia is united and determined with the co-chairing countries in seeking a solely peaceful solution to the conflict,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement. He insisted that the Kazan summit ended in failure because of Azerbaijan’s “destructive and maximalist position.”
Nalbandian also said that Baku continues to reject mediators’ proposals aimed at bolstering the ceasefire regime. Those include the withdrawal of snipers from the frontlines and the adoption of a mechanism for joint investigations of truce violations.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, for its part, claimed that it is the Armenian side that has breached the principle of non-use of force advocated by Obama, Hollande and Putin. “Besides, the mediators note that maintaining the status quo is unacceptable and this too corresponds to Azerbaijan’s position,” Elman Abdullayev, a ministry spokesman, said, according to Regnum.