Amid international pressure and widespread expectations, Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan did not sign a framework document which would have set the stage for a resolution of the Karabakh conflict, as they met in Russian city of Kazan for talks hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Armenian president Serzh Sargsian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev made a joint statement, which runs: “The heads of state confirmed mutual understanding on the range of issues that contribute to the creation of the conditions for approving the major principles of the Karabakh settlement.”
This is much less than what’s expected, given the unprecedented number of “calls for additional efforts” to reach a Karabakh solution and sign a deal, which leaders of main OSCE Minsk group mediator countries U.S., Russia, France, as well as the EU issued within the past two days.
The fact, that Serzh Sargsian feels more confident at home due to the lingering dialogue with Armenia’s largest opposition force Armenian National Congress most likely had a role in giving the Armenian President the strength to reject a deal, which he himself described as “not a document that the Armenian side has dreamed of.”
The framework peace accord proposed by the mediators envisages that Karabakh’s final status would be determined in a referendum to be held in the disputed territory years after Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani districts surrounding it. It is still not clear whether the two sides agree on the time frame and key practical modalities of the would-be vote.
This could look like a sensible proposition, but the continues bellicose rhetoric by Azerbaijani leaders undermines all the would-be virtues of such a peace accord, because it would mean, that Armenia and Karabakh are simply giving up fortified positions to a highly aggressive enemy which is only waiting for a convenient moment to attack.
It is no wonder, that Armenian opposition have been highly critical of the propositions, with ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and “Zharangutyun” (Heritage) threatening to stage protests if Sargsian signs a deal under those terms.
PS: Even though I’ve always been pro peaceful settlement of Karabakh conflict, I’m glad the Armenian President was in a strong position this time to make his position loud and clear without having to fear outside pressure.