Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet in Vienna to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Map of AzerbaijanEarlier this months, presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have confirmed their readiness to meet in Vienna, Austria. President Ilham Aliyev and President Serzh Sargsyan met today agreeing to advance negotiations toward a peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

During their private one-on-one meeting and the working session afterward with the Co-Chairs and the Ministers, the Presidents discussed a broad range of issues related to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the statement from the primary mediation organization, OSCE Minsk Group said.

“The Presidents agreed to advance negotiations toward a peaceful settlement. They instructed their Foreign Ministers to continue to cooperate with the Co-Chairs to build on the work to date with the aim of intensifying the peace process. They agreed to meet again in the months ahead,” the statement read.

U.S. State Department, in turn, has issued the following statement in support of both sides continuing negotiations:

“The United States welcomes today’s meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Vienna, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. We commend the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for this first step, and are encouraged they have agreed to a follow-up meeting in the months ahead.

Their first meeting in almost two years, this summit is an important step toward restarting dialogue and demonstrates the leaders’ shared commitment to bring an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group along with Russia and France, the United States urges both presidents to work actively towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict, which has taken a heavy toll on the people on all sides.”

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has emerged in 1988, when ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) of Azerbaijan SSR have started public demonstrations to join Armenian SSR. The transfer of territories was rejected by the Azerbaijani parliament and the Soviet Supreme Soviet. After Soviet Union collapsed, armed struggle of Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh backed by Armenia turned into a full-fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which ended with Armenia control of 20% of Azerbaijani territories. OSCE Minsk Group has proposed a number of peace options since the late 1990’s. None have been fully accepted by both parties, thus turning the conflict into a frozen one.

Both countries continue to arm their armies, Azerbaijan with its oil revenues and Armenian with Russian subsidies. Baku and Yerevan remain convinced that resumption of hostilities is not to be ruled out.

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