Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to host this month fresh talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in an effort to kick-start the stalled Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
Citing an “informed” Russian diplomatic source, the Regnum news agency reported on Monday that the meeting is scheduled to take place in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi on January 23-24.
President Serzh Sarkisian’s office did not refute the information. Commenting on it, Sarkisian’s spokesman Armen Arzumanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the presidential press service “announces meetings and visits of the President of Armenia in due course and in an appropriate manner.” Arzumanian did not comment further.
There was no immediate reaction to the Regnum report from Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and other officials in Baku. In his New Year’s address to the nation, Aliyev accused the Armenian side of effectively renouncing further negotiations with Azerbaijan.
That Aliyev and Sarkisian will hold yet another trilateral meeting with Medvedev this month was confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian service by another source privy to Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by Russia, the United States and France. The Russian president has organized about a dozen such meetings since 2008.
Aliyev and Sarkisian came close to agreeing on the basic principles of a peaceful settlement proposed by the three mediating powers at their most recent face-to-face talks held in the Russian city of Kazan last June. But they failed to overcome their differences, raising more questions about the future of the peace talks.
The two leaders said through their foreign ministers last month that they are ready to meet again “in the near future.”
In an interview with Azerbaijani state television aired later in December, Medvedev insisted that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may still be resolved in the near future despite the current impasse in the negotiating process. “In my view, this is perhaps the only conflict in the post-Soviet space that can be settled at the moment,” he said.
Analysts are skeptical about Karabakh peace prospects, however, pointing to continuing bitter recriminations traded by the conflicting parties and their diametrically opposite public statements on how the dispute should be resolved.