Azerbaijani FM: Following Vienna talks, weâ€™ll offer the presidents to meet - INTERVIEW
- 16 November 2017
Following the meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in Moscow on Nov. 16, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov answered questions from an APA correspondent.
Q: Mr. Minister, what’s your evaluation of the outcome of the meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs?
A: I was very satisfied with the content of the negotiations, which were quite constructive and substantive. We discussed specific issues on resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I will not make any comments because we decided to continue our meetings within the framework of the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Vienna in early December. In principle, there are ideas. The co-chairs have undertaken to work on these ideas to advance further. They always ask me what plan we are working on? I answer that since the Prague process of 2004, all the proposed ideas have been on the table. Of course, some of them are six-item proposals, as noted by the co-chairs. You can have a look at them. We worked on details today. I can not say that I'm too optimistic. The meeting with the co-chairs showed that we, the Azerbaijan and the co-chairs, are determined to advance the negotiation process, which has been dormant for more than half a year.
Q: Lavrov is scheduled to visit Baku and Yerevan. Are these visits particularly aimed at resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
A: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay an official visit to Baku on 19 November and to Yerevan on 20 November. During the visit, bilateral relations with Azerbaijan, as well as ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, will be discussed. There are many issues to be discussed during Lavrov's visit. Of course, the main issue to be discussed is ways to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov also told me that Lavrov will be fully informed about today’s meeting with the co-chairs in Moscow.
Q: Was the next meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents discussed today? Are there any concrete proposals in this regard?
A: We have come to a conclusion with the co-chairs that we should discuss the possibility of a meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the format of “2+3” in Vienna. After the Vienna meeting, we will offer the presidents to meet. After the issues discussed today with the co-chairs are also discussed by the Armenian side, we will ask the presidents about the probability of a meeting.
Q: Ahead of your visit to Moscow, you said in Baku that negotiations can not be held for the sake of negotiations. You also underlined the need to move the process from the dead point. Do you think the process has been moved from the dead point? Do today’s talks give hope to any progress?
A: I would be glad to say that there has been some progress in the negotiations. However, if you do the analysis, you can find the points that prevent this progress.
There is always some hope, and this is quite serious. Today, I felt that the co-chairs are seriously dealing with the work. The co-chairs openly said that they are not tourists, they need serious negotiations because they represent serious countries. I welcome it. How much can you justify yourself? They either say the elections are going on, or that someone attacked a police station. Does it mean that these negotiations will last forever? No! This is not real. Alternative is known to all. Nobody wants it. Azerbaijan also does not want a clash to erupt. Azerbaijan is an economically developed country which implements large-scale geo-strategic projects. But nobody needs futile talks and nobody is going to endure this. Today, we had a serious conversation with the co-chairs and came to the conclusion that it is enough to deceive each other and we must move forward. Everyone knows the way to resolve the conflict well, but is afraid to take a decisive step. Because this is a political step.
Q: Former U.S. co-chair Matthew Bryza made such a statement that the U.S. may withdraw from the Minsk Group co-chairmanship, as a result of which the group’s format can change. How do you think this information is true?
A: I don’t believe that the U.S. is intending to withdraw from the Minsk Group and the group’s format will change. The American co-chair takes his duties very seriously. There were such rumors for a while. There were discussions about reductions in the U.S. Department of State. However, the U.S. co-chair was not alone but with his assistant at today’s meeting. This shows that the U.S. is seriously dealing with this work.