Sarkisian, Aliyev Pledge to Push For Karabakh Peace

Presidents Sarkisian and Aliyev meet in Vienna on Tuesday

VIENNA (RFE/RL)—Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan pledged to reinvigorate the protracted search for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during face-to-face talks held in Vienna on Tuesday.

Neither man made any statements to the press after their two-hour meeting, the first in nearly two years, mostly held in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Sarkisian uttered only one word as he emerged from a conference room in the Austrian capital. “Normal,” he said when asked by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) to describe the talks.

“During their private one-on-one meeting and the working session afterward with the Co-Chairs and the Ministers, the Presidents discussed a broad range of issues related to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the co-chairs said in an ensuing joint statement.

“The Presidents agreed to advance negotiations toward a peaceful settlement,” read the statement. “They instructed their Foreign Ministers to continue to cooperate with the Co-Chairs to build on the work to date with the aim of intensifying the peace process. They agreed to meet again in the months ahead.”

The mediators also announced that they will arrange another meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers and again visit the conflict zone before the end of this year. It remained unclear whether they presented Aliyev and Sarkisian with any new peace proposals.

The two leaders already pledged to intensify the peace process at their previous meeting held in Russia in January 2012. The process has remained effectively deadlocked since then, however.

The United States appears to have been the main driving force behind the latest Armenian-Azerbaijani summit, with President Barack Obama personally urging Aliyev and Sarkisian in September to resume their direct contacts. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had phone conversations with both presidents ahead of the Vienna talks.

“I talked with both President Aliyev and President Sargsian in the last 72 hours and they are meeting shortly,” Kerry told reporters in Washington on Monday. “We are urging that process to move forward, and we will continue to be engaged in that.”

“The United States welcomes today’s meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Vienna, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs,” said a statement from the U.S. State Department. “We commend the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for this first step, and are encouraged they have agreed to a follow-up meeting in the months ahead.”

“Their first meeting in almost two years, this summit is an important step toward restarting dialogue and demonstrates the leaders’ shared commitment to bring an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the statement continued. “As a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group along with Russia and France, the United States urges both presidents to work actively towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict, which has taken a heavy toll on the people on all sides.”

Turkey Chimes In
Turkey hopes that a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is on the horizon, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late on Monday.

“We hope that this frozen conflict will be ending soon,” Davutoglu told a joint news conference with Kerry in Washington. “And that will bring peace to Caucasia; that will bring peace to the region beyond Caucasia.”

“Therefore, today I am happy to see that John and me and Turkey and the United States look to this issue from the same perspective, and we hope that this meeting [on Tuesday] between President [Serzh] Sarkisian and President [Ilham] Aliyev will be successful,” he said.

Kerry also indicated that the Karabakh issue was on the agenda of their talks, noting Turkey’s “very large role” in the region in that context. “For months now, we have been talking about Cyprus and we have been talking about Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said. “And quietly, we have been trying to work ways that our ambassadors … are continuing that process,” he said.

Turkey hopes that decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks would eliminate the main obstacle to the normalization of its relations with Armenia sought by the United States. Ankara regards the Karabakh settlement as a precondition for implementing U.S.-brokered normalization agreements signed with Yerevan in 2009.

The Turkish government stands by that linkage while apparently seeking renewed diplomatic contacts with the Armenian side ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. Davutoglu reportedly asked Switzerland, another sponsor of the 2009 agreements, to “convince Armenia to leave the occupied territories” of Azerbaijan during a visit to Berne last month.

Armenian leaders made clear afterwards that another Turkish-Armenian rapprochement will be impossible as long as Ankara sticks to its precondition.

The U.S. has likewise repeatedly urged the Turks to unconditionally ratify the Turkish-Armenian protocols. Still, Kerry made no mention of those protocols and broader Turkish-Armenian relations at the news conference with Davutoglu.

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11 Comments

  1. Norin Radd said:

    This whole fiasco is an international joke. It’s unheard of to win a war of oppression that you did not instigate then as the victor be asked to sit down and make territorial concessions with your would be oppressor which you owned on the battlefield. The EU and US should work on the Cyprus issue first with the unlawful turkish invasion before they meddling in Armenian affairs.

    The U.S. should EU should stop with their multi headed snake like meddling in the destinies and futures of self determined peoples. What happened to all the BS talks of “freeing oppressed populations” that the US state department constantly throws out every time it wants to invade a sovereign country for oil? It’s ironic that now in a case of true “freedom from oppression” in which Armenians freed themselves, the US instead is barking about “territorial integrity”, I guess unfortunately for the native Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh, the oil fields were left on the other side of the battlefield after the Azerbaboons were defeated, otherwise secretary of state John Kerry would be giving our testicles a rub down instead of that ape Alliev.

    President Sarkissian has handled the diplomatic salvo very well with great composure, good work!

  2. karakeuz said:

    Who is Kerry to poke his proboscis into the Caucasus ? The Caucasus is the Russian orbit of influence. Any angular look into by outside powers can only augur ill for the region. The USA is pro turkey, pro Azeri, anti Russian, and by extension anti Armenian. There is no need for an opening of the turkish border, nor for any protocol ratification. Cui bono from the ratification of the protocols ? Not Armenia, but america’s geopolitical thrust. Establishing open relations with Turkey can only be materialized if they recognize the genocide, repair compensation and return of Armenian lands. If these conditions are not fulfilled, open relations can be left for future generations who can obtain and get the deserved compensation and justice for the genocide. Armenia is in a pincer trap. It is like a hazel nut in a pincer forcep between Turkey and Azeris ( turkey -Azeri is two turkic nations. In turkic calculations what started in 1915 can be completed in 2025. Armenian diffidence, lack of visionary foresight; chasing their own tails on irrelevant issues of antinational and anti ethnic priorities, compulsion to emulate the so called ‘ West” in every facet of political, social life, to ” outdemocracy the Western democracies; in summary pursuing an unrealizable pipe dream. The turks love this, all they have to do is wait and wait and see the ethnicity of Armenia dissolve into a vortex of self annihilation. The USA must be ousted from influencing the fate of the Caucasus. Already in Armenia we have fifth columns, activists, and agents of the USA promoting and abetting their geopolitical interests. They must be and need to have their activities neutralize . Armenia can not afford the luxury of indulging in ” western experiments” . There is no time for that . Our survival is at a knive’s edge.

  3. Sarkis said:

    President Sargsyan was able to talk to aliyev from a position of increased strength because of Armenia’s decision to ascend to the Custom’s Union. The recent remarks from the commander of the Russian military base in Armenia only reaffirmed that Armenia is the dominant party in these talks.

    We Armenians have to appreciate that President Sargsyan, as Armenia’s president, visited Artsakh a day before this trip to review Artsakh’s military practicing war games. He greeted them as “soldiers of the Armenian Army” and presented them with gifts. That sends a pretty strong message to azerbaijan and its supporters about Armenia’s position on Artskah.

    Meanwhile, aliyev has been hysterically screaming about his army’s “impending victory” over Artsakh since 2004. He is desperate to keep the azeri focus on Armenia, because otherwise the azeri public will turn its attention to the case of the missing petrodollar billions.

    Here we have a very stark contrast in two leaders who say one thing and do another: Sargsyan is officially ambiguous about Artsakh’s final status and recognition, but he goes to Artsakh and observes military exercises and greets Artsakhi soldiers directly as members of the Armenian Armed Forced and gives them gifts. On the other hand aliyev pounds his chest on azeri tv, swears that azeri patience has been exhausted and a war with Armenia is absolutely imminent, but then he turns around and is forced to smile, shake hands and play nice with Armenia’s president.

    This, my fellow Armenians, is geopolitics and diplomacy done right!

    • IMHO said:

      I agree fully. He depends on the “impending” war as does any war monger who wants to pursue his own personal agenda. Armenian government is doing an amazing job handling its many enemies and diplomatic nuances.

  4. gaytzag palandjian said:

    One would think,how stupid do they think Armenians (in general) are.By setting forth the Nk(Artsakh) issue and beating the same old drum that ¨territories¨, mind you, not a few front line districts or territories of NK is hinted at , but by using this incognito phrase which may also mean the whole of Artsakh,Nagornyi Karabagh, that was freed-liberated from harsh Axerbaijani rule,should be released to Axerbaijan, as Mr. Davout oglu wishes to convey.
    But what happened to Aghtamara,Sourp Giragos, just to mention a couple of such very sophisticated approaches to appease some of our Paremid(kind minded) not to say Barzamid(simple minded) compatriots..why were these restored …just to attract Tourism? or appease the Western and Easteern powers to be or are that, we are changing,yavash yavash , piano paino by and by and that the Turkish Republic is ready to enter EU.pretty soon and form part of it.
    What is more ,most Armenians know that this is done in order to overshadow, the main issue.That of great Turkey´s acknowledgement of the Genocide their predecessor Govt.s perpetrated upon our people ,evicting them from millenia old habitat and divert all attn to NK.As though Kars Ardahan , Nakhijevan ,usurped by them is not on the Armenian Demand agenda,plus indeed BLOOD MONEY.
    Which by the by i have a book in which(English or American author) estimated then ,viz 1920 at Sevres Conf as $3.7 billion…which by todays evaluation ,plus intersts would probably be 200 times over that much.

  5. John said:

    well see, they’ve had meetings before and nothing has changed. I am hopeful though.

  6. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Let the thieves and killers return Ararat, Van, Kars, Sasun, Mush Erzrum…etc, first …
    before asking for more lands…which never belonged to them…

  7. GeorgeMardig said:

    It is long due that the Armenian government withdraws his signature from the 2009 Turkish-Armenian protocols

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