SOCHI, Russia (Itar Tass) — The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serge Sargisian and Ilham Aliyev, have held their first meeting this year in southern Russia initiated and hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The meeting on Monday early afternoon in the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort near Sochi reportedly focused on prospects of the Karabagh settlement.
The Sochi meeting was the fifth between Sargisian and Aliyev hosted by the Russian leader. After the first one in November 2008, Moscow, Yerevan and Baku signed a joint declaration that reiterated support and approval of the peace efforts conducted as part of the OSCE Minsk Group process and called for abstaining from the use of force in settling the protracted Nagorno-Karabagh process. (The second, third and fourth Medvedev-Sargisian-Aliyev meetings were held during 2009 in St. Petersburg (on the sidelines of an international economic forum), Moscow (on the sidelines of horse racing events) and Chisinau (as part of the CIS summit), with no documents issued after those talks.)
The document signed and released in 2008 in Meindorf, near Moscow, did not, however, prevent Aliyev from repeatedly making war threats against Nagorno-Karabagh. The latest statement implying that Azerbaijan was not ruling out any option, including a military one, to regain Nagorno-Karabagh was issued by one of Aliyev’s senior aides only hours before the Sochi meeting. (Armenia routinely discards this war rhetoric as populism directed for domestic consumption and has repeatedly downplayed Azerbaijan’s military capability to win back Karabagh or areas surrounding it now controlled by Armenian troops).
The parties meeting in Sochi did not publish any document after their discussions. According to media reports, instead the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were expected to come up with statements. After meeting with Medvedev, later during the day, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were expected to meet with the Minsk Group cochairmen.
After the negotiations that lasted for two hours and were held behind closed doors, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists that the parties considered the concrete proposals that had been submitted by the Minsk Group cochairmen.
“There is a general understanding on the preamble to this document. All agreed that it is useful that such a document exists, because it makes it possible to talk not abstractly, but in linkage to concrete formulations,” he said. “The main result today is the arrangement that while there are parts on which the sides disagree, they are preparing their concrete ideas and formulations that will be introduced into this text.”