Russia Wants to Act As Guarantor of Karabakh Settlement

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russian presidential administration deputy head Sergei Prikhodko told ITAR-TASS on Thursday that if Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliyev find a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict–Russia is ready to act as a guarantor of the settlement. Prikhodko said that there is some progress in this issue–but the main problem is that the people in Armenia and Azerbaijan are not yet ready for a peace settlement. Prikhodko believes that the Karabakh conflict can be solved only if there is public support for peace in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The meeting between the presidents of Armenia–Azerbaijan–and Russia–on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Minsk ended on Thursday. Speaking to journalists in Minsk–Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov said that there will be no breakthrough in Minsk on the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. "We are making great efforts to find a solution to this most complicated problem," Ivanov said. "We inherited this problem….No one else will solve it. This first of all concerns the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples–but we as friends and brothers … can and will provide assistance." According to Ivanov–there can be no stability in the North Caucasus region if there is no stability in the South.

Speaking to reporters at Baku Airport before leaving for Minsk–Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev denied that he asked the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs to postpone the Geneva talks scheduled for next month. Aliev said he thinks the Minsk summit of the Caucasus leaders will decide whether the Geneva talks will be held in June as originally planned.

Aliyev expressed confidence that the talks on Nagorno-Karabakh would be productive. The Azerbaijani president said that the idea of the U.S. to start economic cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan before settling the conflict is unacceptable for his country.

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