Putin Mediates Talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Sochi

MOSCOW (Wall Street Journal, Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Sunday, August 10, calling for a negotiated and peaceful resolution to the armed conflict in the South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabagh.

The meeting, held in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, was the first face-to-face engagement between Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Serge Sargisian since the recent surge of violence in the region.

Fighting erupted a week ago and has already claimed dozens of lives on both sides.

Putin has sought to act as peacemaker in the conflict despite accusations from the West that Russia is fueling a bloody separatist insurrection in another former Soviet republic—Ukraine.

“I state with pleasure that the president of Azerbaijan has pointed out the need to solve the problem peacefully, and you [Armenian president] have said the same just now. This is really of the utmost importance, because there is no greater tragedy than the death of people,” Putin said, according to a transcript of the meeting published by his press service.

However, no practical steps to end the conflict were announced. Putin said the issue will be discussed by the three presidents and later with “our colleagues.”

During the meeting, Aliyev insisted that Armenia should comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and withdraw its forces from Nagorno-Karabagh, while his Armenian counterpart accused Azerbaijan of not following the same resolutions. Nevertheless, both said the issue should be resolved through negotiation and “compromises.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting that although the presidents of the two countries agreed to continue the dialogue, “the practical aspects of the conflict settlement have not been agreed on yet.”

Sargisian said on Monday the Nagorno Karabagh problem should be solved by peaceful means.

“We believe that there can be no military solution to the Karabagh conflict. If that’s the case, the problem should be solved in negotiations,” Sargisian told ArmNews TV Company.

“This is why we always agree to meet without formalities, especially at a high level. And this meeting was not an exception. We gave our consent to the Russian president’s proposal to meet in Sochi,” he said.

“This meeting was important for the Russian president to understand whether the parties are willing to solve the problem and find out their expectations. I believe that the President of Russia achieved his goal,” Sargisian said.

“No separate agreement [on de-escalation in the region] has been reached. It’s pointless to talk about new documents because previously, in 1994 and 1995, the parties signed two agreements [on ceasefire] and they must comply with them,” he said.

But if new circumstances develop, they may lead the way to an agreement on the non-use of force which would have a much higher status than ceasefire agreements, Sargisian said.

“An international incident prevention and response mechanism will be a more effective option. If we can create such a mechanism, this will provide a very serious motive. It is necessary to work in this direction,” he said.