Armenian Azeri Summit ‘Could Break Karabagh Impasse’

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The upcoming meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan could prove decisive for the success of the latest international push to resolve the Mountainous Karabagh conflict–Defense Minister Serj Sarkisian said on Monday.

"I look forward to that meeting just as you do–because a lot depends on it," Sarkisian told reporters. "We can probably say after that meeting whether the peace process is continuing or has entered a deadlock."

President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of a Council of Europe summit in Warsaw next week. The two leaders will try to build on progress reportedly made by their foreign ministers during a series of internationally mediated talks over the past year.

French–Russian and U.S. diplomats spearheading the peace process announced last month that the conflicting parties are close to making a "first step towards an agreement."

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said last week that further progress in the long and painful peace talks depends on the results of the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.

"The foreign ministers have done all they could possibly do and that the next step has to be taken by the presidents," Oskanian said. He again insisted that no formal peace agreemen’s will be signed at Warsaw.

Aliyev and Kocharian could have come face to face in Moscow at the weekend on the fringes of a summit of former Soviet republics. However–Aliyev chose to boycott the summit on the grounds that it coincided with the 13th anniversary of the capture by Karabagh Armenian forces of the strategically important town of Shushi.

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