Elmira Tariverdiyeva, commentator at Trend European Desk
In expectation of the fifth meeting between Azerbaijan and Armenian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan at a forum in St. Petersburg, observers with bitter experience of the Prague meeting, expressed cautious optimism. Alas, the May meeting of the presidents in Prague did not mark any breakthrough and progress towards resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Regular meetings of Heads of State and almost continuous presence of intermediaries in the region inspire some hope that it will shift from a dead point. Considering the scenario of solution to this problem, we can safely argue that only mediators, in conjunction with the political will of the presidents of both countries, could move closer to the most positive results in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly said that they are dissatisfied with the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, but they would like to continue to work in this format. For Azerbaijan, probably, this is indeed the most appropriate format. The countries - co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - arouse many questions, because the United States, France and Russia - the state with the most powerful and influential Armenian diaspora in the world.
Of course, the factor of the diaspora can be seen as an argument against these co-chair countries. But there is an argument "for" - energy resources of Azerbaijan, which are equally important for both West and Russia. Oil and gas, which Baku possess is no less powerful argument than influential representatives of the diaspora.
Regional influence in the Caucasus is impossible without good relations with Baku. Russia lost Georgia after the August war, and Armenia, a country with so fragile economic system, can not be relied on as a worthy partner in the region.
Maybe it is high time for Russia and West to assists with the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with joint efforts.
There are several prerequisites. The new U.S. administration initially took friendlier attitude to Moscow than Bush's team.
Washington must realize that will not be able to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem without the participation of Russia and the partnership is simply vital. In this case, the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict could be a success not only in peacekeeping in the Caucasus, but also in the resumption of cooperation between the United States and Russia.
Who else than the two great world powers will facilitate the withdrawal of parties from the status quo, which does not satisfy the two warring sides, and push for compromise and peaceful settlement?
The history has witnesses several cases when the great powers, combining diplomatic efforts, made the country with small size to abandon its ambitions for the sake of his great interests.
Peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires the United States, Russia, Europe, Turkey and even Iran to join forces to achieve peace in the Caucasus region. However, such a scenario is rather a fantasy than a forecast for the future.
Will Saint Petersburg meeting be an efficient step by great power in conjunction with Western mediators for the settlement? This is the question that can not be answered by any of the Minsk Group co-chairs, neither the observers nor the political establishment of both countries.
But I would like to hope that a strong and influential power can help the two Caucasian countries to move forward in resolving the protracted and exhausting conflict.
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