The US co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Process mandated to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabaklh conflict, Ambassador James Warlick, has said that plans are in hand to organise a meeting between President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan before the end of the year. Warlick told the Voice of America (VOA) Armenian Service, in a wide ranging interview, that details of the meeting still had to be worked out, but that he was hopeful the Presidents could meet before the end of the year.
The last substantive meeting between the two Presidents took place in Vienna in November 2013. After that there were other meetings, sometimes on the margin of big international gatherings, but observers consider them to have been largely symbolic. In his interview with the VOA, Ambassador Warlick repeated his concern at the detriorating situation on the line of contact. He said that whilst until recently most breaches of the cease fire were as a result of sniper fire, in recent months, mortar and artillery were being used, and a number of civilisans have been killed. Warlick emphasised that there needs to be political will in order for an agreement to be reached, but also highlighted that peace will bring in a new era of prosperity in the region.
Ambassador Warlick also emphasised that the Minsk Group co-Chair, which include apart from the United States, diplomats from Russia and France, supported the idea of confidence-building measures between the sides. He also emphasised that despite problems in relations between the US and Russia, co-operation in the context of the Minsk Group remained satisfactory.
You may read the full interview of Ambassador James Warlick in Armenian on the VOA website here.
photo: President Aliev and President Sargsyan with the Minsk group co-Chair before their meeting in Vienna in 2013 (archive picture).