Armenian President Robert Kocharian played down suggestions on Wednesday from a U.S. envoy that a preliminary deal with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh will be possible before March.
On Friday U.S. deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, Matthew Bryza, said he thinks a framework agreement between the two sides is possible before Armenia's presidential election, expected next February or March.
But Kocharian said that is unlikely. "The negotiation process is a definitive process but I am not so much of an optimist to assume that before the presidential election we will reach a concrete result," he told Armenian television.
Kocharian said comments by the Azeri government and military are still too aggressive for any real progress to be made at the moment.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian echoed the pessimism in separate comments on Wednesday. “The latest statements by the co-chairs are a bit more optimistic than reality,” he told RFE/RL during a visit to Prague.
“When you look at Azerbaijan’s actions in real life, outside the negotiation framework, and the positions it takes in international bodies and the statements it makes at the highest level … one can arrive at the conclusion that Azerbaijan today is not ready for an agreement on that document,” said Oskanian.
President Ilham Aliev and other Azerbaijani leaders have blamed the Armenians for the conflicting parties’ failure so far to resolve the Karabakh conflict.
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