BAKU (RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliev said over the weekend that he is satisfied with the latest round of negotiations with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh–described by international mediators as a significant step towards a peaceful settlement. In his first public commen’s on the results of the peace talks in Florida–Aliev appeared to share Armenian leaders’ cautious optimism about the possibility of a breakthrough in the peace process.
"Everything is alright," the Azeri leader was quoted by Turan news agency as telling reporters in Baku upon his return from the United States late on Saturday. Aliev–77–ended his two-week stay in the US with a medical examination at a clinic in Ohio.
His Armenian counterpart–Robert Kocharian–on Tuesday gave a positive assessment to the four-day "proximity talks" in Key West–Florida earlier this month with Russian–American and French negotiators acting under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kocharian said he looks forward to the next round of talks due in Geneva next June.
Aliev declined to comment on Kocharian’s assertion that new peace proposals currently prepared by the mediating troika will be in tune with the Armenian position on how to end the Karabakh conflict. Some Azerbaijani politicians have accused Yerevan of breaching the confidentiality of the talks. Aliev–however–said Kocharian’s statement "will not damage the future negotiations."
Aliev’s son and most likely successor–Ilham–told reporters on Friday that Baku is ready to grant Karabakh the "highest degree of autonomy," or a status similar to that enjoyed by the Republic of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation.