The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serge Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, are expected to meet Sunday at the French consulate in Munich, Germany. It will be the eighth presidential meeting since Turkey and Armenia began reconciliatory talks.
In addition to this meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian are also expected to meet in Athens, Greece, on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE.
Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols Oct. 10 but have not yet initiated ratification of them at either parliament. Turkey submitted the protocols to its Parliament, but Armenia is still trying to pass them through the constitutional court. “I do not think that one could press Turkey at this moment when Armenia has still not submitted them to parliament,” the senior diplomat said.
For Turkey, the condition to go ahead with the protocols is progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks.
“There are important developments,” the senior diplomat said, adding that a technical delegation had completed an exploration of the Lachin Corridor, a mountain pass within the official borders of Azerbaijan that is the shortest route connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh. “Its status and how to provide its security are important matters to be solved.”
Davutoğlu held a telephone conversation with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov last week and was informed about the talks. The co-chairmen of the OSCE’s Minsk Group held meetings last week in Yerevan and Baku. Mammadyarov is expected to pay a visit to Ankara next month.
“The public is aware that there will be no further steps taken unless there is progress on the Karabakh issue,” Davutoğlu said Tuesday at Parliament while defending his ministry’s budget. “We are now expecting concrete results [out of the negotiations].”
The three things Turkey expects are the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the seven regions surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh province and the return of the Azerbaijani people who were expelled from their homeland; clearer definition of the status of the corridor and how its security would be assured; and, lastly, the reaching of an interim agreement.
For Turkish diplomats, there are no additional obstacles before the two parties being able to shake hands in the near future. “Talking about deadlines is not always productive, but everyone is aware of the need to accelerate the process,” another Turkish diplomat said.
“Who knows, maybe Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan will be opened simultaneously,” the diplomat added.
According to Davutoğlu, simultaneous rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia and Armenia and Azerbaijan would be the best formula for reaching a comprehensive settlement in the southern Caucasus.