Geneva-Sochi-Moscow: Russia enhances Karabakh settlement process
On November 15, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan left for Moscow on an official visit at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the President’s Office press release, the agenda of Serzh Sargsyan’s and Vladimir Putin’s talks include the issues of further strengthening and development of the Armenian-Russian relations and bilateral inter-state ties. “It will also touch upon cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and regional relevant issues”, was noted in the press release before the visit.
On November 14, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk in Moscow. According to a press release by the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the participants of the Moscow meeting discussed the possibility of creating favorable conditions for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Nalbandian and the mediators discussed the process of implementation of agreements reached during the summit in Vienna, St. Petersburg and Geneva, as well as touched upon the possibility to organize a meeting between Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov in the near future. Let’s add that on November 16, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will meet with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in Moscow.
In addition, it was reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan in the upcoming days. “We have not stated it yet, but there is no secret. My visits to Yerevan and Baku are scheduled at the very beginning of next week. First of all, the visits are held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Russian diplomatic relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. The agenda will, of course, include bilateral relations with each of these countries that are rich and saturated”, said Lavrov, noting that they will also address regional and international issues: “We also will try to understand where we are in the framework of efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after the recent meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents”.
After the Sargsyan-Aliyev talks in Geneva on October 16, there is an impression that Russia activates Moscow’s influence over the Karabakh settlement, with the intention to hold further talks on Karabakh under Russian aegis. First of all, official Ankara contributed to this with the public statement of the expectations of the Karabakh settlement from Putin at the level of Erdogan. Immediately after the Putin-Erdogan talks in Sochi, Moscow is now “trying to understand” on what stage the “efforts” over the Karabakh settlement are after the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Geneva.
And does Moscow have any news whether Aliyev will eventually give an agreement, for example, to the intermediaries’ requirements on introduction of mechanisms to investigate incidents on borders, whether he will respect the agreements reached during the Vienna and St. Petersburg meetings. Or does Lavrov arrive in Yerevan and Baku with another package?
It is noteworthy that before Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Moscow, as well as Lavrov’s visit, the Azeri side fired Armenian border on the last weekend, while Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev once again made tough statements presenting Baku’s position on Karabakh issue. “We do not envisage any change in our principled position. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Karabakh conflict should be resolved within the framework of the principle of preserving the territorial integrity of our country”, Aliyev said at a gathering dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the ruling “Yeni Azerbaijan” party, and added: “There is no other way, we will never allow the creation of the second Armenian state in our historical territory”. He claimed that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity at any cost. According to Aliyev, Azerbaijan will consistently strengthen its military forces: “According to international ratings, our army is one of the most powerful armies in the world, the army will be given as much money and equipment as it needs without restrictions”. The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister demands “concrete results” from the talks. Elmar Mammadyarov noted the following before leaving for Moscow: “We wish the negotiations not to be only for the sake of negotiations. We even demand concrete results. The Presidents’ meeting also noted that the talks should be intensive. I leave for Moscow with this position”.
In fact, Moscow takes the implementation of the “intensive negotiations” over its shoulders today. Probably, this very issue will be solved within Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan and Baku.