(RFE/RL) — The first session of the closely watched “reintegration” talks in the western Azerbaijani city of Yevlax between representatives of Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian leadership of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh ended without any sign of a breakthrough, as the two sides exchanged accusations and denials over reports of gunfire and apparent cease-fire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto capital, but with word of further meetings to come.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s office said on September 21 that the two-hour session was “held in a constructive and peaceful atmosphere,” with Russian peacekeepers present.
The office added that both sides had agreed to further talks.
Separatist [Artsakh Republic] leaders also said in a statement following the meeting that they were ready to continue talks with Azerbaijani authorities.
“The parties especially stressed the need to discuss all existing issues in a peaceful environment, noting the readiness to continue meetings,” the statement said.
But with Baku hoping to consolidate gains from a 24-hour military offensive on September 19-20 that dramatically shifted political calculations in the Caucasus, ethnic Armenians’ leadership in the region was said to be demanding guarantees before their forces surrender all their weapons.