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Karabakh Peace ‘Still Possible’ For Russia


Russia/Tatarstan -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C), his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian (L) and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (R) walk during their meeting in Kazan, 24Jun2011

Russia/Tatarstan -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C), his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian (L) and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (R) walk during their meeting in Kazan, 24Jun2011

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may still be resolved in the near future despite the current impasse in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said over the weekend.

“In the last several years a lot has been done to bring the parties’ positions closer to one another,” Medvedev told Azerbaijani state television in an interview. “There are definitely prospects for reaching an agreement.”

“In my view, this is perhaps the only conflict in the post-Soviet space that can be settled at the moment,” he said.

“Everything depends on the good will of the parties, on their ability to listen to each other’s arguments, and, let’s face it, there are no simple decisions. An agreement can be reached only on the basis of compromise,” he added.

Medvedev has been personally involved in the Karabakh peace process, having organized about a dozen trilateral meetings with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the last three years.

The two sides came close to agreeing on the basic principles of a peaceful settlement proposed by Russia, the United States and France at the most recent Armenian-Azerbaijani summit held in the Russian city of Kazan last June. They failed to overcome their differences, however, raising more questions about the future of the peace talks.

Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev said through their foreign ministers earlier this month that they are ready to meet again “in the near future.” But there are still no concrete plans for such a meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow will continue to make “active efforts” at Karabakh peace. “Support for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and crises has traditionally been among our foreign policy priorities,” he told the Interfax news agency.

Sergei Minasian, a senior analyst at the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, suggested that Moscow’s chief concern now is to prevent another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “If hostilities resume Russia will have to make a very difficult choice: either to help its strategic ally and fellow CSTO member Armenia … and lose Azerbaijan or not to help Armenia,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“In the latter case, Russia will lose Armenia because Russian military presence in its territory makes sense to Armenia only if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not resolved. And in case of losing Armenia Russia will eventually lose Azerbaijan as well,” he said.

Arman Melikian, a Yerevan-based former Nagorno-Karabakh foreign minister opposed to the basic principles, claimed that the Russians are ready to impose an “unacceptable” peace deal on the Armenian side if Azerbaijan agrees to give them much greater control over exports of Azerbaijani oil and gas.

Melikian said that even if Baku agrees to the Russian terms they will be rejected by the Karabakh Armenians and public opinion in Armenia. “Given this Russia will fail to sit on two chairs simultaneously,” he said.
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