Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: final stretch at race for prize of President of Russia?

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: final stretch at race for prize of President of Russia?

Elmira Tariverdiyeva, commentator of Trend European desk

The last visit of the OSCE Minsk Group to the region was marked by their statement that the process of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement came to the final stretch. And the next breakthrough in the talks is expected at the next meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia to be held in Moscow on July 17 within the traditional race for the prize of the President of Russia.

"The Moscow meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will help reach the finish line on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement," Russian co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group Yuri Merzlyakov said to press conference on July 10 after his visit to Baku.

It is impossible to deny significant advancements in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement over the last year. The fact that the presidents of the conflicting sides meet regularly already gives hopes for efficient result of negotiations. But the question on what conditions a framework agreement must be signed between the conflicting sides remains open.

During their last visit to the region, the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group did not detail the items of the next negotiations, but advised to pay attention to recent statements by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. MG co-chairmen noted that precisely they can make a conclusion on two items on which the mediators hope to conclude the negotiations "and then open a new debate on the topic, which up to now, has been discussed only in general terms," said French co-chairman Bernard Fassier.

Apparently, the talks in Moscow will focus on the issues that President Ilham Aliyev spoke in an interview with ITAR-TASS news agency and presenter of News Sunday telecast Sergey Brilev regarding the results of Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Baku.

During interview, President Aliyev said that it needs to resolve the conflict based on international law, OSCE decisions and resolutions of the UN Security Council. "And, of course, this legal framework envisages restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijan's territory and the return of refugees to their homeland," he said.

Reading the interview, it becomes clear that the Azerbaijani side really constructively approaches the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. "Our proposal reflects the safety of those people who are there, in the Nagorno-Karabakh, now live and will live; reflect the issues of local self-government of Nagorno-Karabakh; reflect the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," said President Aliyev.

In the same interview were also noted those items that are of greatest disagreement between the sides. One of the most pressing issues is the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the President of Azerbaijan, this issue could be postponed indefinitely.

However, the Azerbaijani side has made some concessions to Armenia. In this case, Baku supports the proposal of the OSCE Minsk Group and tries to achieve withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from the territories which are located around the administrative border of Nagorno-Karabakh.

However, in one of the main issues of concern for Armenia, President Aliyev demonstrated enough tolerance, saying that knowing the importance for the Armenian side to have a ground link between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, considers that "the issues related to the Lachin corridor can be effectively addressed so that there was no concern for those who live in Nagorno-Karabakh today and the Azerbaijani population who will return there after the settlement of the conflict."

If the Armenian side is ready for constructive dialogue at the upcoming meeting in Moscow, the "final stretch" of negotiations is indeed quite possible outcome from a protracted territorial dispute. Of course, this does not mean that the conflict between neighboring countries will be completely exhausted this year. But even some convergence of views gives hope for a reasonable approach to future work of sides on solution of this problem in future.

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