SOUTH CAUCASUS – Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents prepare for a new milestone peace talk in Kazan, Russia, which is expected to be the most successful in almost resolving the long-standing conflict. OSCE Minsk Group Chairs will attend the meeting to warm up the parties and ensure violence-free environment at the talks.
President Medvedev issued a statement on Monday strongly urging Serj Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev to put maximum effort into bringing this round of talks to a new level of closeness to resolution. “We have had some efficient talks before in Moscow, St. Petersburg and elsewhere,” statement reads, “however I believe in the potential of the negotiating parties to kick the bar of talks a bit higher and achieve a true almost-breakthrough or near-breakthrough level.”
OSCE Co-Chairs have been very active in building up the suspense for the meeting. French diplomat Bernard Fassier has commended the constructive stance of both sides. “We welcome Azerbaijan’s moderate rhetoric on the eve of the talks. President Aliev made only two minor threats to attack Armenia within the 10-day period leading up to the high-level talk”, French facilitator explains.
Ilham Aliev made a statement 5 days before the official close-to-breakthrough meeting saying “We are prepared to return our lands through the use of force, if talks don’t give us Karabakh” which was seen as a significant progress after his earlier remarks vowing to “wipe out filthy Armenians any moment now no matter what”.
Political analyst Richard Giragosian believes there is a chance for a unprecedented rapprochement: “The Azerbaijani moderation is really inspiring. I believe a true progress on basic principles is very likely. However it’s not about the principles of resolution of the conflict, but more about principles of how to organize and conduct the talks. It is very important to have common understanding of dress code, level of threats voiced prior to meetings, as well as stylistics of statements following the talks.”
Although official Yerevan has not made comments before the meeting, however sources leaked that president is keen to contribute to bringing the talk to “absolutely unprecedented level of almost resolving the conflict”. Source expressed hope that the Azerbaijani side will be consistent, too and will also make efforts to making it as breakthroughish as possible.”
“If previous close-to-breakthrough talks were some inches away from reaching a breakthrough, this one will be unique in making it just a few micro… millimeters away from breakthrough. There will be much to celebrate – South Caucasus has never witnessed such a successful close-to-resolution experience,” explains the source.
OSCE Minsk Group has expressed cautious hope that there is a preliminary agreement that for over a month after the close-to-breakthrough talk, Azerbaijan will not resort to hard-core military rhetoric.