Russia hosted a new round of Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations in Moscow on Thursday, in an apparent bid to salvage the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a trilateral meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on the sidelines of a regular gathering of the foreign ministers of ex-Soviet states.
Neither the Russian Foreign Ministry, nor official sources in Baku and Yerevan reported any details of the talks. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said only that the three men “continued discussions on topical issues pertaining to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s resolution.”
The talks came just over a week after the failure by Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents to reach any agreements on the margins of the OSCE summit held in Astana. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had expressed hope that they will iron out their remaining disagreements on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the Russian, U.S. and French mediators.
Contrary to expectations, President Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev did not even meet in Kazakhstan’s capital. They only pledged “more decisive efforts” at Karabakh peace in a joint statement with Medvedev, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In Yerevan, meanwhile, the National Assembly finally rejected an opposition bill that would oblige Armenia to formally recognize the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) as an independent state. Only 13 deputies of the 131-member parliament voted for the motion put by the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.
Leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority reiterated their view that a formal Armenian recognition of Karabakh would be counterproductive at this juncture. “Not only is our view unchanged but it has become even stronger,” said one of them, Galust Sahakian.
Speaking at the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan last week, Sarkisian warned Yerevan will recognize the NKR if Azerbaijan tries to win back the disputed enclave and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it by force.