(RFE/RL)–Armenia and Azerbaijan have made contradictory statemen’s on the meeting between their presidents that took place in Russia over the weekend. International mediators had hoped the talks would mark a turning point in their protracted search for a solution to the Mountainous Karabagh conflict.
Presidents Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliyev did not speak to journalists after their talks in the Russian city of Kazan on Saturday–and it is unclear whether or not they reached any formal or informal agreemen’s on Karabagh. Reports from Kazan said the two leaders conferred in a tte–tte format for an hour before being joined by French–Russian and US diplomats spearheading the peace process.
Kocharian–according to his spokesman Victor Soghomonian–came away satisfied from the meeting held on the sidelines of a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States. "The Armenian side assesses the meeting in Kazan positively and considers it a positive development in the negotiating process," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Soghomonian as saying.
The official added that Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan and Vartan Oskanian of Armenia will continue that process "based on the agreemen’s reached in Kazan." He did not say what those agreemen’s are.
"In general–I cannot say that there has been any major progress or breakthrough," Mammadyarov said for his part–according to the Azeri ANS television. "We did not reach any agreement."
"I think that we–both Armenia and Azerbaijan–need a couple of weeks to analyze the thoughts voiced by the two sides and think what the results may be and whether we are prepared for any progress or not," he added.
Mammadyarov and Oskanian held talks in Moscow earlier in the week to prepare for the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit and appeared satisfied with their results. Highlighting the importance of the Kazan meeting–US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Aliyev and Kocharian August 25 to urge them to make mutual concessions that will pave the way for a Karabagh peace deal.
Regional observers believe that Aliyev and Kocharian will not announce any compromise deals until November–which will see parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan and a constitutional referendum in Armenia. It is widely assumed that opposition groups in both countries would exploit unpopular concessions on Karabagh in their struggle against the ruling regimes.