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Sarkisian Cools Talk Of Karabakh Peace


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian addresses top Armenian diplomats on September 1, 2009.

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian addresses top Armenian diplomats on September 1, 2009.

President Serzh Sarkisian sought on Tuesday to lower expectations of an impending resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that it will take years despite serious progress made in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations.

Meeting with Armenia’s ambassadors around the world, he said: “It is important that you too explain to everyone -- and officials in the countries where you are accredited in the first instance -- that the conflict’s resolution is not a matter of days, weeks or months. Everyone must clearly understand that we are currently negotiating on only several of the basic principles of the settlement.

“Even in case of reaching agreement on them, many other principles and the accord itself, which should regulate details of the [peace] implementation, will remain unresolved. That is a process that requires a great deal of work.”

The remarks came just over one month before Sarkisian’s widely anticipated meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group hope that it will remove the remaining hurdles to the acceptance by the conflicting parties of their basic principles of a Karabakh settlement.

Aliyev and Sarkisian reportedly narrowed their differences over the proposed framework agreement at their previous meetings held earlier this year. The Armenian leader has since faced growing criticism from his political opponents at home for his readiness to embrace the mediators’ peace formula which envisages significant territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

Sarkisian argued on Tuesday that while some of the basic principles are “far from an ideal solution imagined by ourselves” the proposed settlement upholds the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination and “multi-layered security guarantees.” He dismissed opposition claims to the contrary as “petty speculation.”
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