Putin brokers a meeting, as another soldier dies

In the wake of the violence on the ‘contact line’, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought together both Presidents in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 9–10 August to discuss how tensions could be calmed. The meeting was described as “important,” with both presidents reaffirming their commitment towards “seeking a solution exclusively on the basis of a peaceful approach”, according to Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister. He went on to admit: “the most complicated questions are still unsolved.” No practical steps designed to end the conflict were announced.

He reflected: “The Presidents have confirmed their commitment to the principles outlined by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. These principles imply a necessity to seek a peaceful solution that respects territorial integrity and the right of self-determination. The Presidents expressed their preparedness to continue dialogue at the Presidential level. The Russian Federation, as one of the Co-Chairs, will assist with this process. The Presidents instructed their Prime Ministers to continue this work, along with efforts to elaborate practical aspects of the conflict settlement, which have not been agreed, as yet.”

Opening the talks, President Putin explained that the conflict remains part of the region’s “Soviet legacy.” He commented: “We must show patience, wisdom and respect for each other to find a solution.” During the meeting, President Aliyev stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remained protracted and must be resolved. He acknowledged that the personal involvement of President Putin would give new impetus to the negotiation process, saying: “As you stressed, there is a format for negotiations. There is also a legal basis for the conflict settlement. The UN Security Council has passed four resolutions requiring the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory. Unfortunately, more than 20 years have passed, but these resolutions remained on paper.”

President Aliyev said that Russia, as Azerbaijan’s close friend, partner and neighbour, had a special role in the settlement process. He said: “We hope that, in the near future, we will find a peace solution through negotiations. This solution will meet the norms and principles of international law and be just.”

According to local outlets, President Sargsyanreplied that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved through compromise, based upon OSCE principles, saying: “If we just blame each other again, I think this conflict will not be resolved for a long time.” He stressed that this conflict settlement is in the national interests of Armenia.

As President Putin summed up: “I think there is such a good will from Azerbaijan’s people and from the Armenian people,” the news came in that another soldier, Rufet Fetelizade, aged 19 years, had been killed in the Tovuz district. Another soldier, 21-year-old Orhan Tagiyev, was seriously wounded in the Gadabay district.