Editor's note: details of President Medvedev's speech were added after the fifth paragraph
Russia, Astrakhan, Oct. 27 / Trend V.Tukayev /
The parties have signed a declaration, which envisages the return of prisoners of war and takes a humanitarian nature, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday after the trilateral meeting in Astrakhan.
"These are not ordinary meetings, they take place in hard polemics. I consider them positive, because negotiation is better than conflict," said Medvedev.
The fact that today the parties signed a joint agreement - a declaration aimed at exchange of prisoners of war and the return of the dead bodies - can be considered a progress," he said.
Medvedev said the conflicting sides have not been in open confrontation for long, but people are losing their lives.
"For this purpose, as a first step without delay, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to conduct the exchange of prisoners of war and the return of the dead bodies with the assistance of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as to follow these approaches in the future, based solely on the humanitarian nature of these issues," the document says.
According to Medvedev, by the OSCE summit, Azerbaijan and Armenia can reach an agreed solution on the principles for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement.
Negotiations are a move forward and better than the active phase of the conflict.
The special declaration is aimed at strengthening confidence-building measures," Medvedev said.
"The parties have agreed that now questions have left, which subsequently must be the basis for a peace agreement," he said.
According to Medvedev, the conflicting sides have made a way that allows to hope that if they work (such instructions have been given to the foreign ministers), by the OSCE summit in Astana on Dec. 1-2, Azerbaijan and Armenia will be able to reach an agreed version of the general settlement principles.
There are many questions, but, according to the President, the parties have a desire to agree upon a solution. "Russia will continue its efforts to resolve the conflict, and I believe that the result will be reached," said Medvedev.
Following the trilateral meeting of the presidents, the sides also held talks with the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
Astrakhan hosted the trilateral meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia - Ilham Aliyev, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan . The ways of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are discussed there.
This is the third meeting of the presidents in a trilateral format. The presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia met last time in St. Petersburg in June. The presidents met in Sochi in January in this format earlier.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.