Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan are scheduled to meet on 29 March in Vienna to discuss a possible settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry stated on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the meeting will be mediated by the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs
It will be the first official face-to-face meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan, whose encounters have so far been limited to the sidelines of other events.
Pashinyan has repeatedly stated that a peaceful resolution of the conflict is his top priority. He has also urged for the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh to be included in the negotiations, a proposal unilaterally rejected by Azerbaijan.
In an interview with Meydan TV, journalist and political commentator Rauf Mirgadirov has shared pessimistic views about the upcoming meeting.
“It would be naive to expect anything substantial from the first official meeting of the leaders," Mirgadirov said, arguing that the meeting will serve introductory purposes.
He believes that the domestic politics of both countries prevent the sides from compromising over the conflict.
Baku and Yerevan have been stuck in conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory since the late 1980s, when the majority Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh decided to separate from Azerbaijan, a move that ended in a full-fledged war that killed some 30,000 people and left many more displaced.
Despite the ceasefire signed under the auspices of Russia in 1994, peace has yet to come to the region. Internationally facilitated negotiations have so far failed and the truce has been breached in many instances.