Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 24 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /
It is positive that the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents at the initiative of the Russian President met in Sochi and were at least able to agree to a common statement, Director of European Programs at the International Crisis Group Sabina Fraser told Trend today.
"It is good that Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to the Russian proposal to support civil society in engaging in more confidence building and dialogue," she said, commenting on the results of the tenth meeting of the presidents in Sochi.
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan held on Monday at a meeting in Sochi tenth trilateral format, following which issued a joint statement
Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian presidents held the tenth trilateral meeting in Sochi on Monday. A joint statement was made as a result of the meeting.
The Presidents said that the coordination of basic principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was reached as a result of intense negotiations. Taking into account the importance of passing to the development of a peace agreement, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents expressed their willingness to accelerate the agreement on basic principles taking into account the conducted work.
The Presidents confirmed that one of the confidence-building measures in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement is the development of humanitarian contacts between the parties. In this regard, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents pledged to promote further dialogue among intellectuals, representatives of scientific and social circles.
Civil society initiatives are essential, but they do not usually require a presidential agreement, she said.
"Maybe now that the two Presidents have made this commitment there will no longer be any political obstacles, as there has been in the past, to joint meetings, between Karabakh Armenians and Karabakh Azerbaijanis, and between Armenians and Azerbaijanis," she said. "This kind of meetings should be free and encouraged by the authorities."
"However this is a very slim outcome considering that the Presidents have been talking about the basic principles since 2005 and at several occasions were close to an agreement," she added.
"Other ideas such as pulling back snipers along the line of contact and establishing a incident prevention mechanism for violation of the ceasefire regime, which are very important to prevent a unforeseen escalation of tensions, were evidently also not agreed."
"Unfortunately little progress is likely in the negotiations for the next 18 months as elections occur in Azerbaijan, Armenia and the co-chair countries," she said. "This time should be used to develop extensive confidence building and dialogue initiatives so that all sides are ready to start implementing an agreement once it eventually occurs, or to react to help stop fighting if a war begins."
Tensions are growing and as International Crisis Group said in a report a year ago, we are concerned of the real likelihood of a resumption of war in the mid-long term as the sides lose faith in the negotiations, purchase more and more weapons, rhetoric becomes more heated, and there is no start to the return of the occupied territories. Such a war would be difficult for either side to win and risks having devastating regional consequences, she said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno- Karabakh region and seven 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.