Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to meet in Geneva
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan will hold a meeting in Geneva on October 16, the spokesperson of Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry Hikmet Hajiyev said in a statement.
"Upon the proposal of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia will be held in Geneva on October 16, 2017 to discuss the settlement process of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that, first of all, the meeting of the presidents will help prevent a possible aggravation of the situation in the conflict zone. "The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict tends to erupt in the near future again, as the problem has not been resolved, and the talks has been de facto frozen. According to my estimates, the outbreak could happen in the autumn-winter period, since in summer both countries are interested in the flow of tourists. This probability is very high, so the meeting of the presidents will be an attempt to defreeze the negotiation process in order to avoid a military escalation. But it is difficult to say whether it will be successful, or not," he stressed.
Meanwhile, according to him, the positions of the parties have not changed at all for more than a year, since their last meeting on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement in St. Petersburg. "I think that we have not seen any changes in positions yet. So far we see that the negotiation process has been frozen, rather, on the Armenian initiative, and Azerbaijan demands the resumption of these talks on a meaningful basis," Sergei Markov said.
The director of the Institute of Contemporary Economics Nikita Isayev, also welcomed this event. "It is gratifying not only for the participants in the conflict, but also for the international community, that there are signals for a dialogue between countries and leaders of the countries. This meeting speaks volumes, because it will be held against the backdrop of an ongoing escalation on the line of demarcation. This tension had eased since late July, when there were civilian casualties - an Azerbaijani girl and her grandmother. So I think if they manage to hold this meeting with the mediation of Russia, perhaps the US and France, and reach certain agreements to find an understanding with regard to the areas around Nagorno-Karabakh, the status of the demilitarized zone, and the escalation of the armed conflict, then, of course, it will be a great breakthrough not only for the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, but for the whole world," he expressed confidence.
"If Armenia and Azerbaijan continue the political dialogue, it will be extremely important and principled for the mediators, especially for Russia. I hope very much that direct bilateral talks will provide a breakthrough in a peaceful settlement," Nikita Isayev concluded.