Once again, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, failed during their recent summit to reconcile their differences on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. If this is starting to sound familiar, it should. The two countries have spent almost four years getting nowhere on finalizing the supposed “basic principles” for a Karabakh peace deal.
Ironically, given their track record, international expectations for Aliev’s and Sargsyan’s June 24-25 summit in the Russian city of Kazan ran unusually high. Like any master of ceremonies, Moscow and obliging Russian media encouraged those expectations; Russia’s Foreign Ministry, in fact, predicted that the get-together could prove “a milestone for a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.”
Pre-summit phone calls to Aliyev and Sargsyan from US President Barack Obama and letters from French President Nicolas Sarkozy played a part, too. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, eager to burnish Iran’s peacemaking credentials, phoned both men as well.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation – Azerbaijan. Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.