ST. PETERSBURG (Combined Sources)–Russian President Dmitry Medvedev brought his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts, Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian, together for talks on Thursday following separate meetings with each of them on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.
They dealt principally with the search for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia, along with the United States and France, has been mediating talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh, the subject of a war began by Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, when the indigenous population of Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from the Soviet Union.
The Russian President, for his part, described his frequent visits with Sarkisian as “useful” in the development of Armenian-Russian cooperation. During their private talks, the two leaders also discussed the deepening of their economic ties and strategic cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Speaking to reporters ahead of his private talks with Aliyev, Medvedev welcomed the Azeri President to St. Petersburg and said the two leaders had “many important, high-priority topics to discuss, which are of great concern to everyone.” He underscored as key agenda items, the effects of the global financial crisis, energy security issues “so essential” for their countries, and other joint projects.
Aliyev, for his part, thanked Medvedev for the warm welcome and agreed that the two leaders had a “very wide-ranging agenda” with “many topics for discussion. The Azeri President also underscored that they would be discussing “oil and gas cooperation, which are gaining particular relevance and importance today.”
“We appreciate the fact that, as you said, our ties are developing in many areas, including political and economic cooperation,” Aliyev said, adding that the “regular and intense” meetings between their countries reflect the development of their relations. “I am certain that in the future, our cooperation will remain as positive, predictable, and amicable as it has always been.”
The three presidents later met together for an informal dinner that was followed by an evening boat ride.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said the meetings did not result in a breakthrough in the conflict resolution process, but noted that the Kremlin believes “the very fact of the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia is important.”
Medvedev, Sarkisian, and Aliyev last met in this format last November near Moscow where they signed a nonbinding document that pledged the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to intensifying their efforts in seeking a negotiated peace and a mutually acceptable compromise.
“After our last meeting we have been working with our Russian colleagues toward implementing the agreements reached,” Sarkisian was quoted as saying ahead of his meeting with Medvedev. “The Armenian side has been diligently working with the support of the Minsk Group on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.”
The so called Moscow Declaration also reaffirmed that the parties would actively work toward a settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of international law and within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.