“If Azerbaijan and Armenia fail to display soon a readiness to solve the accumulated problems, then we will consider this mediation mission to be over,” a leading Moscow daily, “Kommersant,” quoted a “high-ranking Kremlin source” as saying.
The unnamed official commented on the outcome of Medvedev’s latest trilateral negotiations with Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev that were held in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday. Despite facing strong international pressure, the two leaders failed to agree on the basic principles of ending the Karabakh conflict put forward by Russia, the United States and France.
The Kazan meeting was the ninth Armenian-Azerbaijani summit hosted by Medvedev in the last three years, a fact highlighting the Russian president’s central role in the Karabakh peace process.
According to the Kremlin source, Medvedev told Aliyev and Sarkisian that he will organize another summit only if they “firmly express their readiness to sign up to the principles of the settlement.”
The conflicting parties blamed each other for the failure of the Kazan talks that lasted for more than three hours. In particular, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian claimed that Aliyev scuttled an agreement by demanding “about a dozen” last-minute changes in the latest version of the basic principles.
“Kommersant” cited an unnamed diplomat involved in the negotiating process as saying that the Kazan summit “unexpectedly rekindled disagreements which were long deemed settled by the mediators.” Some of them related to “the determination of Nagorno-Karabakh’s future status,” said the diplomat.
“But the problem is not so much these disagreements as the fact that the parties have repeatedly changed their positions. And that’s unacceptable,” he added.
The official may have referred to practical modalities of a future referendum on self-determination in Karabakh. The holding of such a plebiscite is a key element of the peace framework advocated by the three mediating powers.
The “Kommersant” source also downplayed the three presidents’ statement saying that Aliyev and Sarkisian reached a “mutual understanding on a number of issues whose resolution would help to create conditions for the approval of the basic principles.” He said the parties simply “once again confirmed the remaining contentious issues.”