Experts: There will be no breakthrough in talks around Nagorno-Karabakh

Experts: There will be no breakthrough in talks around Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 2 /Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/
There will not be a breakthrough at the next negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents with the participation of the Russian president, though perhaps it will be crucial, experts say.

The next meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents will be crucial for the international community to realize whether the parties of the conflict have a real commitment to reach an agreement, the International Crisis Group analyst Sabina Fraser said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan will meet in Kazan in late June. This will be the ninth tripartite meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia.
The meeting held in Sochi on March 5 was the eighth tripartite meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. Astrakhan hosted the seventh trilateral meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia - Ilham Aliyev, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan on Oct. 27. The parties signed a declaration envisaging the return of POWs. It is of humanitarian nature.
On May 26, the presidents of the Minsk Group co-chairing countries made a joint statement on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the G8 summit in Deauville, France.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to demonstrate the political will and to finalize the work over the basic principles of [the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] during the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in June.
On one hand it sounds very close and the Presidents have not been doing much yet to prepare their population for an agreement. But on the other hand the basic principles have been on discussions till 2007 - four years of discussion, Fraser said.
According to the Azerbaijani political scientist Tofig Abbasov, there will not be a breakthrough at the meeting of the presidents.
"The Russian president will try to stir up his Armenian counterpart so that he would not balk at accepting the Madrid principles, since still there are not another approach, another block of the principles," Abbasov told Trend.
He stated Baku said its word and took the problem away from the temptation to make the territorial issue the subject of discussions. Likewise, the Azerbaijani president made it clear that the status of the disputed region could be solved only after the refugees return to their native places of residence, said Abbasov.
"Just the return of refugees can be a guarantee for future confidence. But Yerevan does not want to understand it. The conditions with which the Armenian president appears in the field of political decision have already spoken of the desire of the other side to undermine the basis of negotiations," said the political analyst.
Maximum that can be expected from the meeting in Kazan is that Medvedev will achieve assurances from his counterparts that they are ready to continue contacts. And it can be interpreted as a positive sign, the expert said.
The Director of the Kavkaz Institute Alexander Iskandaryan believes that most likely there will not be a real convergence of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the upcoming meeting of the presidents.

"Obviously the co-chair countries want any statement to be signed in Kazan, but I think most likely it will not be signed, Iskandaryan told Trend. - But even if a document would be signed there, it will be extremely unspecific and rather a vague statement - a kind of document on principles. So it is not worthy to expect that it will be a real breakthrough. In my opinion, this is unlikely."
He said nothing fundamentally new has been taking place in the process of negotiations since the summer of 2008, when the tangent situation with Nagorno-Karabakh was significantly affected by the war in Georgia. It was the last major event in the process around Nagorno-Karabakh, which strongly influenced the layout around this problem, he said.
However, according to a British expert on the South Caucasus, current year may be crucial for the Nagorno-Karabakh process.

"I believe the announcement by the three presidents in Deauville was the most significant declaration on the Karabakh conflict for many years." he expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, English journalist and author of the book "Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War" Thomas de Waal told Trend.
The Basic Principles document has now been under discussion for more than five years and, as the presidents say, continued delay over agreeing on a short framework agreement raises questions as to whether the presidents are genuinely committed to a peaceful deal for Karabakh, he said.
Russia, France and the United States obviously believe that the time has come to move forward, the expert said.
This year could be crucial while there is agreement among the three big nations and before an election cycle begins," he said.
However, according to Abbasov, such statements reflect the intent of the parties and do not have any legal basis to compel the conflicting parties to implement commitments.
"Three of the co-chairs has been undoubtedly endowed by the community, more accurately, by the UN and the OSCE with the authorities to resolve the crisis. But it is clear that the scale of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the geopolitical calculations behind it are not so significant or not attractive for leader states, he said. Because according to him, they decide this kind of problem in the standby mode, carelessly.
"Therefore, I do not see those preconditions that would force mediators to speed up the process, which has already been delayed. A method of coercion is necessary there. And the international law continues to lose its significance and more retracted into the back box in the solution of serious problems," said Abbasov .
According to Iskandaryan, the co-chair countries have many other concerns, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not the most important of them. As for the activity of Russia, since 2008 Russia has played a key role in the process, and it was a predictable change in the role of Russia after the five-day war in Georgia in August 2008.
"Clearly, this is not an independent initiative of Russia. Moscow has carte blanche from the other two co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group - the United States and France because Russia is most convenient to do so because of its closeness to the region," said expert.
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.

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