Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan meet in St. Petersburg

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By Erik Davtyan

July 12th, the CACI Analyst

On June 20, the Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan – Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev – met in Saint Petersburg. After the unprecedented military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, the first meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents took place in Vienna on May 16. Putin’s initiative to convene the second meeting indicates the active mediation role that Russia has taken in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the escalation. In April, Russian high officials paid several visits both to Yerevan and Baku to discuss the recent developments with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to increase the number of international observers. The parties also welcomed the fact that the ceasefire regime has generally been upheld in recent months. The presidents also decided to continue similar regular meetings in the future.

 

 am-az-spbAfter the discussions, Sargsyan met with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group; Igor Popov, James Warlick, Pierre Andrieu and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan also had a separate meeting with Putin for a discussion on issues pertaining to Russian-Armenian relations.

In his briefing after the Saint Petersburg meeting, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian stressed the fact that Azerbaijan had organized large-scale military exercises while the presidents held talks in Saint Petersburg, which he deplored as an unconstructive approach towards the summit. On June 19-24, Azerbaijan conducted military exercises in regions bordering Armenia, including Nakhichevan. According to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense, nearly 25,000 servicemen, more than 300 tanks and armored combat vehicles, over 100 rocket artillery launchers, up to 40 military aircraft and over 30 air defense systems, along with naval ships and special forces units were engaged in the exercises. Despite this fact, Nalbandian declared that the meeting had been quite useful.

On June 24, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a joint statement, calling on the parties to follow the joint statements of the Vienna and Saint Petersburg summits. It also urges Armenia and Azerbaijan “to remove all remaining obstacles to expanding the mission of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.” The statement also underlined the necessity of establishing an OSCE investigative mechanism. With reference to expanding the mission of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Nalbandian emphasized in his briefing that Azerbaijan has undermined the process of providing financing for that mission within the OSCE committee on financing and budget issues.

The results of the Saint Petersburg meeting were interpreted quite differently in Azerbaijan. Novruz Mammadov, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations and Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of Azerbaijan, declared that the parties had agreed on a “step-by-step” solution to the conflict, which includes Armenia’s “concession of several territories” to Azerbaijan. Moreover, Mammadov stated that France and the U.S. are “comparably far from these processes,” and that considering the level of relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, the latter can play a key role in realizing this option.

Both Yerevan and Moscow issued immediate reactions to Mammadov’s statement. Nalbandian told Armenpress news agency that “not a single agreement on the settlement of the issue was reached at the Summit in St. Petersburg.” Russia’s response came on June 23, when Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated during a briefing that “this is an attempt by Azerbaijan to interpret the agreements that have been reached in its own way” and qualified it as “loose interpretations or misrepresentations.”

According to analyst Sergey Markedonov, the meeting in Saint Petersburg was on the one hand intended to keep the format of negotiations alive and not let it fade away. On the other hand, it aimed to underline Russia’s special interest in solving the conflict, not outside the OSCE Minsk Group format but together with it. Above all, it was obvious that expectations for the summit were not very high, and that any considerable breakthrough in the peace process was therefore hardly anticipated.

Image attribution: en.apa.az, accessed on July 10, 2016

Read 2876 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 July 2016

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The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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