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Azerbaijan, Armenia give fresh impetus to Karabakh negotiations — Azerbaijani leader

According to Aliyev, Baku has not conceded to any changes
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev

VIENNA, March 29. /TASS/. Azerbaijan and Armenia have given a fresh impetus to the negotiating process during a meeting in Vienna on Friday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said, replying to a question by TASS.

"We highly assessed our talks, which were conducted in a constructive atmosphere. This was the first official meeting between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia after a long break. All the previous talks had been held mainly in the format of international meetings," he said, adding, "The foreign ministers of the two countries have held several rounds of talks. The most important fact is that the current meeting gave another start to the negotiation process."

"We have discussed the issues related to strengthening trust measures during contacts between people," Aliyev continued. "Earlier, there had been contacts between members of the public. So it is too early to talk about this (the humanitarian measures - TASS)."

According to Aliyev, Baku has not conceded to any changes. "We are back to the situation when you have to conduct substantial talks. We instructed the foreign ministers to meet in order to continue the negotiating process, and they will do that in the near future, most probably," the Azerbaijani leader noted.

 "The negotiating process should be supported by humanitarian measures. It is of huge importance that the format of talks remained unchanged - only Armenia and Azerbaijan discuss their problems as it was many years before," he went on.

"The negotiating process received a fresh impetus. We highly assessed the statement made by co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on March 9. The document reaffirms that every changes in the format of the negotiating process may occur only if both sides agree," the president added.

Armenia's opinion

Pashinyan said after the meeting the talks have been productive, however, there has been no breakthrough. 

"In general terms, I estimate the meeting as positive. However, I cannot say that there has been a breakthrough in the negotiation process, or an evolution," he said. "However, the main thing is that the sides started to talk about the issues. I hope that President Aliyev will also see this meeting as positive."

Vienna talks

Aliyev and Pashinyan met in Vienna on Friday to discuss the regulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is their fourth one-on-one meeting. Earlier, they met on the sidelines of the CIS summits in Dushanbe and St. Petersburg (September and December 2018 respectively), as well as in Davos during the World Economic Forum (January 22, 2019).

During the talks, both leaders have stressed the importance of peaceful steps to resolve the conflict, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen Igor Popov (Russia), Stefane Visconti (France) and Andres Schofer (USA) stated on the outcomes of the meeting.

"The meeting took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere and provided an opportunity for the two leaders to clarify their respective positions. They exchanged views about several key issues of the settlement process and ideas of substance," the statement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs informs. "The two leaders underlined the importance of building up an environment conducive to peace and taking further concrete and tangible steps in the negotiation process to find a peaceful solution to the conflict."

The Azerbaijani president and the Armenian PM also agreed on humanitarian measures to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Recalling their conversation in Dushanbe, the leaders recommitted to strengthening the ceasefire and improving the mechanism for direct communication. They also agreed to develop a number of measures in the humanitarian field," the OSCE informed.

"The Prime Minister and President instructed their Ministers to meet with the Co-Chairs again in the near future. They also agreed to continue their direct dialogue," the statement added.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed border region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, sought independence from Azerbaijan at the end of the 1980s, which resulted in a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia that claimed the lives of 25,000-30,000 people between 1988 and 1994. Since then, the territory has been under Armenia’s control.

Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been going on since 1992. Russia, the US and France are co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that acts as a mediator in resolving the crisis. The group also includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Turkey.