Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed that the renewed violence in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the South Caucasus should be settled “in a peaceful way.” Leaders of the three states held a joint meeting as tensions worsened in the disputed area.
“I am glad to state that the President of Azerbaijan drew attention to the necessity of resolving the problem peacefully, and you [the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan] has agreed. This is, in fact, most important, because there is no greater tragedy than the death of people," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
President Putin met with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts - Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev – in his residence in Sochi to discuss the current situation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the South Caucasus.
"We should show patience, wisdom, respect to each other to find this solution,” the Russian president said. “Of course, any difficult situation can be resolved if there is good will, and it seems to me that there is such good will on the part of the Azerbaijani people, as well as the Armenian nation.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has also showed eagerness to resolve the conflict through negotiations “in the near future.”
“I hope that in the near future through negotiations, peacefully, we will find a solution, which will correspond to the norms and principles of international law, and will conform to justice,” Aliyev said.
He mentioned that the UN Security Council previously passed four resolutions on the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Aliyev said, “for more than 20 years those resolutions have been on only paper.”
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has said that settling the conflict is in the interest of the Armenian people and thanked the Azerbaijani president for willingness to resolve the conflict.
Responding to Aliyev’s comments on UN resolutions, Sargsyan insisted that Armenia did fulfill demands and used its influence to stop military actions. He stressed that back in 1990s the two sides had agreed that “the conflict has no military solution.”
“If we start blaming each other again, I think, the conflict won’t be solved for a long time,” President Sargsyan said.
The Armenian leader stressed that “the conflict should be settled on a compromise basis, using the principles proposed to us by the Minsk Group co-chairmen [US, France, Russia].”
The Russian president has called on both Azerbaijan and Armenia to continue negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Putin especially stressed the close relations between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia that stem from “from the past.”
"Of course, we respect all these international formats," President Putin said. "We will continue working with our colleagues. But we proceed from the fact that we have very close relations. The history is so deep that it allows us to exchange views frankly on the position and actions to move forward in resolving all these problems of the past."
President Putin also spoke about the informal meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev on Saturday, saying that it created good conditions for Sunday’s three-party talks.
“In the evening [on Saturday] we talked informally. However, last night we did not discuss business, but we were, nonetheless, able to talk to each other about other things. We have created a certain atmosphere to speak frankly about the most complex, difficult issues associated with regional settlement,” Putin said.
The violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – an unrecognized state populated by ethnical Armenians and completely surrounded by Azerbaijan’s territories – intensified in late July. It has already been described as the worst crisis in the area since the beginning of the century.
The confrontation over Nagorno-Karabakh broke out in 1988 when the region announced its plans to seek independence from Azerbaijan and become part of Armenia.
Back in 1991, after Armenia and Azerbaijan obtained independence from the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh held a referendum, which approved the creation of an independent state. As Azerbaijan tried to take the territory under its control, the conflict evolved into a full-scale war, which claimed lives of 30,000 people.
Since 1994, the disputed region has seen a largely undisturbed ceasefire, or frozen conflict, even though Armenia and Azerbaijan de jure are still at war. There has been no peace treaty and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic remains an unrecognized state.
Russia has been a key mediator in the process of finding a solution to the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In 2008, Aliyev and Sargsyan held talks with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, signing an agreement, which called for a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.