A meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to be hosted by their Russian counterpart later this, and focused on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is “not unexpected”, said the Armenian president’s spokesman Armen Arzumanian on Monday.
“This meeting is organized in a usual regime, like all the previous ones,” Arzumanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun).
The Armenian president’s press office said on Friday that Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev will “continue their negotiations over a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” during their meeting to be hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Russia’s southern city of Astrakhan on October 27. No other details of the planned meeting were released then.
Only the possibility of such a summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in December, on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit, had been discussed before that announcement.
“I don’t think it [a meeting in Astrakhan] is a surprise,” Eduard Sharmazanov, a spokesman for Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun). “Russia is a country that co-heads the OSCE Minsk Group [on Nagorno-Karabakh] and lately it has been quite actively involved in the negotiating process.”
Still, Sharmazanov did not rule out that one of the reasons for organizing a tripartite meeting could be “the recent anti-Armenian statements by the leadership of Azerbaijan.”
“But the main reason is that talks should continue and the problem should be resolved solely through peaceful political negotiations,” said the HHK spokesman, adding that, in his opinion, the upcoming meeting will not provide a “breakthrough” in the protracted search for peace.
But Levon Zurabian, a senior member of the ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian-led main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), called it obvious that a “serious negotiating process” is taking place today in the Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia format, where the influence of the Minsk Group is dwindling.
“Today, there seems to be a settlement process on the Karabakh issue in a de-facto format in which the role of Russia is increasing. And the Minsk Group is, in a sense, becoming a channel for the legitimization and internationalization of agreements,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun).
“Now, from day to day, the entire military-political balance is changing in favor of Azerbaijan. In this situation, processes in any format will continue in favor of Azerbaijan,” he added.