MOSCOW (RFE/RL)–The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan next week will hold another meeting initiated by their Russian counterpart amid intensified armed clashes around Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian president’s press office reported on Friday.
According to the report, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will “continue their negotiations over a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” during their meeting, hosted by Dmitry Medvedev, in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan on October 27. No other details of the planned meeting are reported yet.
Such a trilateral meeting will be the first after Medvedev paid visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier this year.
In late August, as part of Medvedev’s visit to Yerevan, Armenia and Russia signed a deal extending the lease of the Russian military base stationed in Gyumri until 2044.
The upgraded defense pact also committed Moscow to supplying its South Caucasus ally with “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware” and, jointly with the armed forces of Armenia, ensuring the security of the latter’s borders.
The move has been widely viewed by local politicians and pundits as a means to curb the growing war rhetoric in neighboring Azerbaijan and discourage its political and military leaders from committing aggression.
Medvedev traveled to Azerbaijan in September where energy-related issues dominated the agenda of negotiations between the two oil- and gas-rich countries.
The Russian leader also reportedly sought to reassure his counterpart in Baku that his country’s new military agreement with Armenia posed no security threat to Azerbaijan.
The last time Medvedev hosted a meeting between Sarkisian and Aliyev was on June 17. Within just over 24 hours after that meeting, Azerbaijani forces committed a major ceasefire violation across the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact, resulting in the deaths of four Armenian and one Azerbaijani soldiers, reportedly killed in the firefight.
The situation around Karabakh has remained volatile since that incident, with skirmishes reported virtually every day. Both sides have suffered more than a dozen confirmed military casualties in recent months.
Moscow has called on the sides to maintain calm and continue their efforts to achieve a negotiated peace. Russia is one of the three co-chairing nations, along with the United States and France, in the OSCE Minsk Group, which spearheads international efforts to resolve the conflict.
Three months after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Medvedev hosted a Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting near Moscow during which the sides put their signatures to a nonbinding agreement reaffirming their shared commitment to seeking a political solution to the conflict.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have since repeatedly accused each other of torpedoing the negotiations and trying to scuttle international efforts to broker a lasting peace in Karabakh.