By Emil Danielyan
The uncertainty over the next round of peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh lingered on Friday after a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States used by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as another occasion to discuss their long-running territorial dispute. Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev made no statements on the new likely date of their postponed negotiations, choosing instead to commend Russia for its “active role” in the peace process.
Kocharian was reported to say that international mediators and middle-ranking officials from the two countries need additional time to prepare for yet another, possibly decisive Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.
The two men held on Thursday a joint meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the CIS gathering in Minsk. The three were later joined by their Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze for talks within the framework of the newly-established "Caucasus Four" grouping.
A joint statement issued by the four presidents stressed Baku’s and Yerevan’s “satisfaction with the active role played by the Russian Federation in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Aliev, speaking at the closing news conference on Friday, expressed new-found enthusiasm for Russia's role in the region. "We Azerbaijanis are very impressed and heartened by the fact that Russia, after the election of Vladimir Putin as president, is
actively and very sincerely devoting its energies to this issue, both as co-chair of the of the OSCE's Minsk Group, along with the United States and France, and by itself,” he said.
The statement by the “Caucasus Four” also called for a “quick” solution to all regional conflicts, describing it as a “chief priority of the states of the region.” “The leaders of the nations agreed that the main role in determining the approaches to ensuring security and cooperation in the Caucasus shall be played by the states of that region and emphasized the significance of the participation of international mechanisms and organizations in the resolution of the conflicts.”
Putin, who later met separately with Aliev and Kocharian, said Moscow will step up its peace efforts on Karabakh. But he did not say if any agreement was reached on the next Armenian-Azerbaijan summit, which was due to take place in Geneva later this month but has been postponed. The Russian, French and American mediators say they need more time to work out all details of their upcoming peace proposals and to allow the two leaders to prepare their publics for mutual compromise.
Meanwhile, the US co-chair of the Minsk Group, Carey Cavanaugh, said Friday he thinks that the latest delay in the peace process will not be long-lasting. But Cavanaugh, speaking with Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists in a televised interview, also would not say when the talks are likely to resume.