Moscow Courting Baku With A ‘Good Basis’ for Solving Karabakh Conflict

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday said there was “a good basis” for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at his residence in Meindorf outside Moscow.

“It seems to us that there is now a good basis for a resolution of the conflict, which would fit with the interests of all states and would be based on the principles of international law,” Aliyev said.

“If the conflict is resolved in the near future, I am sure that there will be new perspectives for regional cooperation,” Aliyev said.

Aliyev also expressed his concern over the situation in the region following Russia’s war in Georgia, saying that the conflict “should be resolved in a peaceful way, through dialogue, by finding common points and based on mutual respect.”

Aliyev visited Medvedev at his residence near Moscow for talks on last month’s conflict in Georgia and on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

According to the Kommersant daily, Medvedev was to propose a package of peace initiatives for a settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict to Aliyev and try at the same time to guarantee that Baku will steer clear of Western political and energy games.

Earlier this month, the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed a joint declaration on recent developmen’s in the Caucasus at a meeting in Moscow. The CSTO declaration noted that the former soviet allies are “concerned with the growing military potential and escalation of tensions in the Caucasus region.”

The Kommersant posited that many observers, including those in Baku, think that phrase should be interpreted as a warning to Azerbaijan, which has been intensifying its war rhetoric, threatening to retake “territories occupied by Armenia.”

It said that source in the Russian Foreign Ministry involved in Tuesday’s negotiations said openly that Moscow would like a firm guarantee from Baku that it will not consider a military option in resolving the Karabakh problem, either before or after its October presidential elections.

Moscow, which, along with France and the United States, co-chairs the OSCE Minsk Group mediating for a settlement to the conflict, plans to propose its own plan to Azerbaijan and Armenia, according to Kommersant, which added that the first point of that plan is the organization of a meeting in Moscow between Aliyev, Sarkisian and Medvedev.

Azerbaijani political scientist Ilghar Mamedov told “Novosti Azerbaijan” that Russia will help Azerbaijan resolve the conflict so long as Baku supports Moscow’s energy initiatives in the region.

“Under this loyalty, the Kremlin requires, at the very least, guarantees that Azerbaijan will not join NATO and will continue its close energy cooperation with Russia,” Mamedov said.

But such a policy shift, according to Mamedov, will likely harm Baku’s relations with Europe, putting a dent in plans to construct a new pipeline (Nabucco) to carry natural gas from the Caspian to southern Europe.

Mamedov explained that the variables at play will not allow for a change in the current format of the negotiations, wherein Russia takes on the sponsorship of peace talks.

Aliyev’s visit to Moscow is “a component of the diplomatic game taking place in the region,” he said.

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