Karabakh Settlement Issue: Armen Sargsyan's Visits to the USA, Moscow and Stepanakert:
After the revolution in Armenia, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs provided the parties to the Karabakh conflict with a so-called “adaptation period” in order to understand the position of the new authorities of Armenia in resolving the conflict, explain their approaches and reach agreements. Separate and joint meetings of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on September 25-27 with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan proved that the “adaptation period” has already ended; In addition, the new authorities of Armenia headed by Nikol Pashinyan are ready to continue the negotiation process on the peaceful settlement of the conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The next meeting with the co-chairs is expected as part of their regional visit before the end of the year. However, before the co-chairs arrive in Yerevan and Baku, active negotiations and discussions are held on the Karabakh issue with the participation of different level officials from the co-chair countries.
Within the framework of the CIS summit in Dushanbe, short-term contacts of Pashinyan and Aliyev took place, which, according to the Armenian Prime Minister, were quite effective and significant. The parties agreed to reduce border tensions and establish “operational communications”. Though these agreements have not yet been fully implemented as border tensions and shots from the Azerbaijani side continue. But even in this case, in the general context of conflict settlement, such a result can be considered positive.
The visit of Russian President Armen Sargsyan to Moscow and his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as it became known from the Russian newspaper Kommersant, testifies to the intensification of the Russian side at the present stage of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. It is not known what the parties discussed, but something suggests that the Karabakh issue was not bypassed. This is evidenced by the fact that after returning from Russia, President Sargsyan left for Stepanakert, where he met with the President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan with a broad agenda.
The visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Armenia at the Francophone summit is also of great interest. It is quite possible that during Pashinyan’s informal conversations with Macron, the Karabakh issue was also discussed. Nevertheless, the most interesting thing here is that along with Macron’s official visit to Armenia, a visit to Azerbaijan was originally planned. However, for unknown reasons, Macron paid a working visit to Armenia, and did not go to Azerbaijan at all. The fact that during the conversations with Macron Karabakh was also discussed is indicated by the fact that after the departure of the French President, in the framework of a different format, during the meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Eastern Partnership member countries, a meeting was held between Azerbaijani foreign minister and the OSCE Minsk Group Stefan Visconti. The Karabakh issue was on the agenda.
In the current stage of the conflict resolution process, the third party co-chairman of the Minsk Group, the United States, also plays an active role. According to unofficial data (the same Kommersant), in early October in New York, a meeting was held between RA President Armen Sargsyan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Nothing is said about the agenda of the meeting, but the fact that Sargsyan’s operational visit to Moscow took place exactly after this meeting makes it possible to assume that one of the topics of the talks with Pompeo was the Karabakh settlement. This topic was also discussed on October 15, at a meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent.
In the context of the Karabakh settlement, the expected visit of the national security adviser to US President John Bolton to the region may be more important. During the visit, Bolton will fly to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia to discuss "a number of important issues." Considering the fact that in the current US administration, Bolton has a reputation as a "regulator" of the most problematic and important issues of the country, it becomes clear what is the importance of our region for the United States. Naturally, this is not only a Karabakh issue, maybe it is not the first in its importance for the United States, given the Iranian-American problems, the Syrian crisis, but the fact that serious accents in the Karabakh issue cannot be but raised is beyond question.
It is obvious that all three countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group have intensified their efforts to advance the peace process of resolving the Karabakh conflict and to organize meetings with the parties to the negotiation process. In this context, the results of the already expected visit of the co-chairs may be more tangible, given the number of meetings and discussions preceding this visit at the level of high-ranking officials from the co-chair countries and the parties to the conflict.
In any case, the results of recent discussions will be reflected in the final statement of the co-chairs on the results of the visit to the region. Or they may appear in any other document signed by the parties to the negotiation process, but the likelihood of this at the moment is not so great, given the internal political events in Armenia and the expected early parliamentary elections.
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