Aliyev Kocharian Meet Again Claim No Progress On Karabakh

SOCHI–Russia (RFE/RL–Armenpress)–The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan announced no further progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process Wednesday after meeting on the fringes of a summit of former Soviet states–their first face-to-face talks in two months–reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The meeting came after the apparent failure last month of yet another round of shuttle diplomacy by international mediators.

"It would be wrong to say that we have reached a common denominator," Kocharian told reporters after a meeting in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi. But he added that he and his Azeri counterpart–Haydar Aliyev–agreed to continue their direct contacts and "not to score points through the media," according to Armenian state television.

The Turan news agency quoted Aliyev as saying earlier in the day that he will raise the issue of Armenian-occupied Azeri districts around Karabakh at the informal summit Commonwealth of Independent States leaders–again accusing the Armenian side of using the lands for illegal drug trafficking. The accusations have been repeatedly brushed aside by the Armenian and Karabakh authorities as a public relations stunt.

The Karabakh peace process appears to have stalled since the cancellation of a crucial Armenian-Azeri summit in Geneva in June. Last month’s visit to the conflict zone by the French–Russian and US co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group failed to produce major progress. Armenian officials said afterwards that a breakthrough in the peace talks depends on Baku’s support for the main terms of ending the conflict–agreed by the parties earlier this year.

Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev claimed on July 16 that the existing international peace proposals favor the Armenia’s and are unacceptable to his country. He denied Yerevan’s assertion that the parties had agreed on the main "principles" of a settlement during talks in Paris last March and in Florida the next month. But in an interview with AFP on July 25–Guliyev did admit that a "framework" is in place for the two sides to make progress towards settling the conflict. He declined to say what it is.

Meanwhile–the Azeri newspaper "Zerkalo" again suggested on Wednesday that Aliyev back-pedaled on a peace deal previously agreed with Kocharian and the mediators.

Also in Sochi–Russian president Vladimir Putin–who is on vacation there–invited theleaders of CIS countries for a unofficial meeting. On the first day–August 1–Putin met with several CIS leaders–among them Armenian president Robert Kocharian–reported the Armenpress news agency.

During the meeting issues concerning Putin’s upcoming visit to Armenia–as well as issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and economic relations were discussed.

The informal summit of CIS leaders began in Sochi Wednesday. The Russian press reported that that the first meeting of the summit was held behind closed doors.

According to CIS Executive Secretary Yuri Yarov–during the meeting CIS heads of state were scheduled to finally determine the range of problems on which the sides will exchange views. It is reported that among other issues–the ten heads of state (Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze and Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov did not attend the summit) will certainly speak about the creation of a free trade zone and an anti-terrorist center for the CIS.

The summit also has a cultural program. Russian pop and variety stars will perform for the high-ranking audience. Included in the program are popular singers Alla Pugacheva and Philipp Kirkorov who will sing for the presidents.

The summit will conclude its activities Friday.

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