An unexpected joint statement issued by the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia could reinvigorate the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
The statement came after talks held by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on October 27 in the Russian city of Astrakhan, near the Caspian Sea. “The settlement of the [Karabakh] conflict through political and diplomatic means requires further efforts on strengthening the ceasefire regime and confidence-building measures,” the statement declared.
To give substantive meaning to the statement’s intent, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to exchange prisoners and to repatriate the remains of soldiers killed in the fighting.
Officials in Baku have sounded an upbeat note in the days since the Astrakhan meeting. Ali Hasanov, a presidential aide, hailed the joint statement as a “positive result of the Astrakhan meeting.” Meanwhile, Aydin Mirzazade, the deputy chairman of parliament’s Committee on Defense and Security, said the statement “creates a cautiously optimistic feeling.”
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku. He is also a board member of the Open Society Foundation - Azerbaijan.