The meeting between President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan held with international mediation was, in general, positively received by the Armenian side, but experts and politicians also general expect no significant changes in the process as a result of that.
The two South Caucasus countries’ leaders met in Vienna on Monday evening. During the meeting, the parties discussed tensions created as a result of the escalation in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone at the beginning of April, and the possible ways to get out of that situation.
The representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries insisted on the strict implementation of the 1994 truce and 1995 truce-reinforcing agreements. Agreement was reached to initiate steps on the introduction of monitoring of their implementation and mechanisms of investigation of incidents, the increase of the possibilities of the personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, in the direction of the possible resumption of the negotiating process on conflict settlement.
On his way back from Vienna to Yerevan, President Sargsyan gave an interview to Armenian TV channels on board his presidential jet, saying that the goal of the Armenian side was to find out whether in reality negotiations had reached an impasse and there was no other way than war, or, however, the problem could still be solved with minimal losses.
“In general, my colleagues and I are satisfied with the results of the meeting, and we can speak about this more clearly, when the co-chairs’ statement is released. But nevertheless, the Azerbaijani president gave assurances that his country and he have no intention of achieving a military solution to the problem,” he said, hinting, however, that the Azerbaijani leader’s assurances should be treated skeptically.
“You understand very well, and I think you even predict my reaction, which is the following: it is good, but it inspires little faith, because there had been lots of such talks, whereas, in reality, the agreement has not been observed for several years,” said Sargsyan, adding that despite the desire of the Armenian side to a peaceful settlement of the conflict, in all cases they are ready for any outcome.
Incidentally, during the meeting, skirmishes continued around Karabakh. Both the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides reported casualties.
However, the outcome of the Vienna meeting was welcomed in Stepanakert, too. The NKR President’s spokesman David Babayan said work has started in the right direction – from the lowest ring, that is, introduction of monitoring mechanisms.
“They should start little by little, by taking small steps to construct, so to speak, the building of the conflict settlement. This issue has been neglected for some unknown reasons, meanwhile the importance of it has been voiced by both official Yerevan and Stepanakert many times. It’s all about [the introduction of] equipment, which should be installed along the line of contact between Azerbaijan and Artsakh [an alternative name for Karabakh], as well as along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The co-chair countries may use satellites to see whether there are movements of troops or not,” said Babayan.
Armen Martirosyan, deputy chairman of Armenia’s opposition Heritage party, said that by this meeting the results of the Azerbaijani aggression have only been confirmed, while they have not spoken about what Sargsyan called “targeted” statements by international mediators and the restoration of the line of contact in the form it existed before Azerbaijan’s offensive on April 2.
“In fact, no major changes happened. In my opinion, this is for winning time, while Azerbaijan will continue its policy, and this has been proven by the fact that even during the Vienna meeting, a soldier was killed at the line of contact,” Martirosyan told ArmeniaNow.
According to political analyst Sergey Minasyan, the meeting was broadly consistent with the purposes for which it was arranged.
“They have possibly been silent on President Sargsyan’s demand related to statements directed to the initiator of the aggression, but we should take into consideration that diplomatic processes sometimes require a milder reaction. I think that a frank discussion took place during this meeting, and, in this respect, it can be treated with cautious optimism,” the political analyst told ArmeniaNow.
Written by Gohar Abrahamyan, with reporting by Alina Nikoghosyan and Satenik Tovmasyan