International mediators say they are ready to facilitate a meeting between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia as the two Caucasus nations attempt to end their long-standing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The co-chairs of the Minsk Group, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said in an October 8 statement that they have taken “positive note” of statements by leaders of the two countries for their “readiness in principle to meet with each other” to seek a settlement.
“The co-chairs look forward to engaging the sides on modalities and details of such a meeting and reiterate their willingness to visit the region in the near future to discuss next steps in the process,” the Minsk Group said in a statement on the OSCE website.
On October 4, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian expressed readiness to meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss further steps to regulate the situation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
A week earlier, Aliyev said he was ready to meet with Pashinian if such a meeting were organized the OSCE Minsk Group.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan, but the entire territory and seven surrounding districts were controlled by ethnic Armenian forces from the early 1990s until recently.
The two sides have skirmished regularly over the years.
Internationally mediated negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE involving the so-called Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, the United States, and France, have been unable to produce a lasting settlement of the conflict.
In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive that resulted in Baku regaining control of the seven surrounding districts, and a significant chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.