Karabakh meeting on the Neva: choice between peace and war
The second this year meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan, will be held next Monday in St Petersburg with the personal mediation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was confirmed by the Kremlin yesterday. Political experts Sergei Markov, Rasim Musabekov and Alexander Iskandaryan told Vestnik Kavkaza what we can expect from this meeting in terms of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and suggested its possible consequences.
The director of the Institute of Political Studies, a prominent political scientist Sergey Markov, is still waiting for the continuation of negotiations on the 'Kazan formula', which was developed under the mediation of the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2011. "Obviously, first of all, they will discuss whether the sides are ready to sign an agreement on the 'Kazan formula' on the transfer of five or six occupied regions around Karabakh to Azerbaijan, as well as the beginning of negotiations on the status of Karabakh, creation of the demilitarized zone in the region and the provision of Armenia with the so-called Lachin corridor to Karabakh. Signing of the 'Kazan formula' agreement would be a historic breakthrough in the conflict, and now we have great opportunities for this," he pointed out.
If the document is not signed in St. Petersburg, the sides still will be able to at least agree on the key issues, especially since Baku and Yerevan are interested in Russia's suggestions. "It happened for the simple reason that only Russia has the ability to be an impartial mediator. The EU is busy with its internal problems, the United States is busy with the elections. In addition, we see that for the last 25 years, the United States has always left the chaos and devastation behind itself. Hardly Azerbaijan and Armenia want to repeat the fate of Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Ukraine," Sergey Markov said.
A political scientist and MP of the Azerbaijani Majlis, Rasim Musabekov, expects that the determination of what the two countries involved in the conflict should expect — the peace or war — will be the main outcome of the meeting in St. Petersburg. "Although everyone says now that the military way is unacceptable and we must look for peaceful ways, practical actions haven't been done yet. The reality is that the time for withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory is up — and either Armenia begins to take on commitments of de-occupation of Azerbaijani regions or it chooses war, if it continues its attempts to carve another so-called Armenian state out of the territory of Azerbaijan. Let me remind you that, in spite of the May meeting in Vienna, neither Azerbaijan, nor Armenia took their equipment from the line of contact. The situation is quite precarious," he stressed.
The expert drew attention once again that Azerbaijan's position is based on the international law. "None of the Azerbaijani requirements is beyond the scope of the international law. Azerbaijan has not occupied Armenian territories. Azerbaijan does not present territorial claims to Armenia. Azerbaijan requires implementation of four resolutions of the UN Security Council. I think that Russia is using its influence in to start taking concrete steps to resolve the conflict. If Armenia wants peace, it should withdraw its occupation troops from the Azerbaijani territories," Rasim Musabekov pointed.
The director of the Caucasus Institute, Alexander Iskandaryan, described the event itself as a positive development. "The fact that the meeting is taking place is already a good thing, especially if the meeting takes place in the face-to-face mode, where the presidents will talk to each other in person, and not only through intermediaries. If the readiness for further dialogue is confirmed, it is even better. Therefore, we can expect an attempt to revive the process of interaction between the sides to the conflict," he believes.
According to him, the conflict at the moment cannot be resolved by concrete steps by the sides. "Now we are just talking about an attempt to transfer the conflict from the battlefield to the negotiating table. I am afraid that now it would not be very realistic to expect a settlement. I do not expect any serious progress in the settlement process in the short and medium term. It hardly seems possible to predict any drastic changes," Alexander Iskandaryan concluded.