YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian expressed hope that Russia’s latest push for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will prove successful as he met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Wednesday.
Sarkisian also held separate talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin which reportedly focused on Russian-Armenian economic ties.
“I want to thank you for your efforts,” he told Medvedev at the start of their meeting in the Kremlin. “That is very important. Russia always played a positive role in the Caucasus, and we very much hope that your efforts will positively end soon.”
Medvedev, for his part, said the Karabakh dispute will be high on the agenda of the talks, which continued behind closed doors. Their details were not disclosed by the press offices of the two leaders afterwards.
Medvedev is expected to discuss Karabakh with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of a summit of Caspian Sea states that will begin its work in Baku on Thursday.
The Russian leader has hosted seven face-to-face meetings between Aliyev and Sarkisian since taking office in 2008. The most recent of those meetings took place in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan on October 27.
Medvedev said after that summit that he is cautiously optimistic that Yerevan and Baku will iron out their disagreements on a framework peace accord drafted by Russia, the U.S. and France in time for the OSCE’s December summit in Kazakhstan.
Addressing more than a hundred Moscow-based Armenian businessmen during a fund-raising gala on Tuesday, Sarkisian again stated that a peace deal is contingent on Azerbaijan accepting Karabakh’s right to self-determination. He also dismissed Baku’s war threats, saying that the Armenians are now “stronger than ever before.”
The businessmen reportedly pledged more than $8 million in donations to rural water infrastructure projects in Karabakh devised by Hayastan All-Armenia Fund.
Sarkisian met Putin later on Wednesday. In his opening remarks, the powerful Russian premier said bilateral commercial ties will be the main focus of their discussions. He praised a major rise in Russian-Armenian trade observed this year and noted that Russia is solidifying its status as Armenia’s leading foreign investor.
“Our biggest companies are actively working in the Armenian market,” added Putin. “And we are grateful to you and the government of Armenia for creating the necessary conditions for that work.”
Sarkisian responded by thanking Moscow for providing a $500 million anti-crisis loan to Armenia last year. “Without that money, we would not have managed to recover [from the economic recession] this year,” he said.