Crisis Group analyst: Kazan meeting on Nagorno Karabakh settlement leaves little hope for progress

Crisis Group analyst: Kazan meeting on Nagorno Karabakh settlement leaves little hope for progress

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 25 / Trend, E.Ostapenko /

The results of the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian presidents' meeting in Kazan are disappointing, but hope for the final coordination of the basic principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement still remains, International Crisis Group analyst Sabine Freizer believes.

The Presidents of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia discussed the basic principles of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement in Kazan on Friday. The meeting, which is the ninth over the last three years, ended without reaching an agreement on the basic principles, but the sides mentioned the progress towards this goal.

"It would have been much better if the statement said simply that the sides reached a common understanding on the basic principles, but instead what the statement says is that agreement was reached on a number of issues. It suggests that there are still other issues that they still do not agree on," Crisis Group Europe Program Director Freizer told Trend.

There were great expectations from the Kazan meeting for a progress in the negotiation process, which lasts about 20 years without obvious progress. Before the meeting, in late May, the presidents of the United States, France and Russia issued a statement on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which called on the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders "to demonstrate political will to finalize the basic principles of the settlement during a meeting in June."

Although the meeting didn't meet the expectations, Freizer believes in possibility of coordination of the basic principles, which, according to her, are the best deal that has been on the table since the end of the conflict.

Freizer believes that the problem is that there is very little time. Presidential elections will be held in the Minsk Group co-chair countries in 2012, while in Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2013. It will become much more difficult to reach an agreement during the election period, she believes.

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.

Freizer said the presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan, as well as people of Azerbaijan and Armenia need to be convinced that this is the best deal available in order to sign the basic principles. She expressed hope the two presidents will start the relevant with population work after returning to Baku and Yerevan.

To that way, if there is another meeting, the tenth meeting of this kind under the initiative of President Medvedev, there is a chance that the document on basic principles will be signed, Freizer said.

"If the negotiations over the basic principles fail, the chance of an armed conflict will become much higher," she said.

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