President Dmitry Medvedev indicated Russia’s intention to organize further high-level Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks and facilitate Armenia’s transport links with the outside world after meeting with his visiting Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Monday.
The two men discussed the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and bilateral ties on the second day of Sarkisian’s state visit to Russia.
“I am convinced that one can achieve a just resolution of the conflict only by political means,” Medvedev told a joint news conference in the Kremlin. “In recent years quite a lot has been done in that direction, including with Russia’s participation.”
“I believe that we should continue to contribute to the negotiating process as a co-chair of the [OSCE] Minsk Group by organizing direct contacts with the leaderships of Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he said.
Medvedev has hosted as many as ten face-to-face meetings between Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev since 2008 in a bid to get the conflicting parties to agree on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement drafted by Russia, the United States and France.
Sarkisian and Aliyev came very close to overcoming their differences at their most recent trilateral meeting with Medvedev held in the Russian city of Kazan in June. The meeting did not yield a breakthrough, however.
Medvedev went on to present the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents with fresh proposals on how to end the impasse. Neither leader has publicized his response to those proposals in what is widely seen as a sign that the peace process will likely remain deadlocked in the months to come.
Sarkisian also commented on Karabakh at the news conference, praising Medvedev’s mediation and reaffirming Yerevan’s commitment to a peaceful settlement. Speaking at Moscow State University later in the day, he insisted that Aliyev scuttled a breakthrough at Kazan by demanding last-minute changes in the framework peace accord proposed by the mediating powers.
Medvedev received Sarkisian at the Kremlin as the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the Minsk Group ended their latest round of regional shuttle diplomacy with talks with Aliyev in Baku.
The co-chairs visited Yerevan on Friday and proceeded to Karabakh the next day. They are expected to issue a joint statement by Tuesday.
Economic issues were also high on the agenda of the Medvedev-Sarkisian talks, with both leaders praising Russia’s strong economic presence in Armenia.
“Russia has been and remains Armenia’s leading partner both in terms of trade and investments,” Sarkisian said, adding that the total amount of Russian investments in the Armenian economy made since the early 1990s is approaching $3 billion.
“As regards our economic and commercial ties, things are developing quite well here,” Medvedev said for his part. He noted with satisfaction that the volume of Russian-Armenian trade will exceed $1 billion this year.
The Russian leader said they also discussed Russian investments in Armenia’s railway network and broader transport infrastructure. He spoke of “possible new ideas related to getting out of the difficult situation in which Armenia is at the moment.”
“We hope that with joint efforts by both Russia and Armenia as well as some third countries we will, after all, manage to achieve a more modern and perhaps even radically new system of communications for Armenia,” Medvedev added. He did not give details.
Sarkisian will wrap up the visit on Tuesday with talks with Russia’s more powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to replace Medvedev as president next year.