MOSCOW (RFE/RL)–Russia will not put pressure on Armenia or Azerbaijan to hasten the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and expects other mediating powers to be just as cautious, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in Turkey on Tuesday.
“Only the two states, the two peoples can find mutually acceptable solutions and compromises in a practical dialogue with one another. Solving these kinds of problems always requires a compromise acceptable to both sides,” Putin told a news conference after talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Istanbul.
“What is acceptable to Azerbaijan or Armenia?” he said. “Only they themselves can tell. All other participants of this [negotiating] process can only act as guarantors of the respect of elaborated agreements.”
“We don’t want anyone to think later on that we pressured one of the parties and achieved a solution to the problem that is unfair to somebody,” he added.
Visiting Turkey last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev likewise stressed that the onus is on Baku and Yerevan to work out a peaceful settlement based on mutual compromise.
Turkish officials had expressed hope ahead of Medvedev’s trip that Moscow will become more actively involved in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. This raised fears in Armenia that the Russians may seek more Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan for the sake of their increasingly close relationship with Turkey.
The Turkish government regards a Karabakh settlement as a key precondition for implementing the Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements signed in October. Putin publicly rejected this linkage when he met Erdogan in Moscow earlier this year. President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian leaders hailed this stance.
The strained Turkish-Armenian relations were at the top of the agenda during Medvedev’s latest talks with Sarkisian held in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don last week. Sarkisian afterwards again blamed Ankara for the effective collapse of the normalization process and ruled out any Turkish mediation in the Karabakh peace process.
It was not clear if the Russian and Turkish premiers discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute on Tuesday. Erdogan made no mention of the issue at the ensuing news conference. He spoke only of “strengthening relations between Turkey and Russia in the whole region and the Caucasus in particular.”