Russia Has ‘Vital Interest’ in Karabakh Peace Putin Says

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–RFE/RL)–Russia is genuinely interested in a quick solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and hopes that the conflicting parties will soon sort out their differences to make a long-awaited peace deal–President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

"I want to express hope that agreemen’s between the leaderships and peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan will be reached in the foreseeable future–the sooner the better," Putin told a news conference in Yerevan. "Russia has a vital interest in that," he added.

The Russian leader spoke at the end of the Yerevan summit of CIS countries participating in the Collective Security Treaty (CST). The Karabakh issue was high on the agenda of his talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian the previous day. No details were reported.

In an apparent effort to disprove the argument that Russia has been thwarting a Karabakh settlement to retain its influence in the region–Putin claimed that the recent progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiation would not have been possible without Moscow’s involvement in the peace process. The Kremlin’s "special relationships" with both Yerevan and Baku put it in a position to speed up the settlement.

"But there should be no doubt that we will not use these special relationships for any kind of pressure on both agreeing parties," Putin said.

"We are proceeding from the fact that it is only Armenia and Azerbaijan that are able to come to an agreement. Putin said that Russia and the other OSCE Minsk Group members can be mediators and guarantors of reached agreemen’s.

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