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Armenian President Cautiously Upbeat Ahead Of Karabakh Summit

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (right) and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has been cautiously optimistic about an upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Russia which international mediators hope will result in a framework agreement to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Speaking at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg on June 22, Sarkisian said the onus is on his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, to make the meeting in Kazan on June 24 a success.

He indicated that he will be going to the capital of Russia's Tatarstan Republic filled with optimism and that "Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are deeply interested in a quick solution to the problem."

“We need a solution that would establish a just and lasting peace,” he said, adding that, he "would be able to expect positive results" if he met with a "constructive approach" and the Azerbaijani side refrained from bringing any additional proposals to the negotiating table.

Sarkisian and Aliyev will discuss in Kazan the basic principles of the conflict's resolution drafted by the United States, Russia, and France.

'Anti-Armenian Racism'

Late last month, the presidents of the three mediating powers urged them to agree on the proposed settlement without "further delay."

On June 22, Sarkisian complained about what he described as "anti-Armenian racism reigning in Azerbaijan" and Baku's regular threats to end the conflict by force.

Sarkisian also questioned Baku's commitment to the so-called Madrid Principles presented by mediators in 2007 which would provide a framework for a durable solution. The principles include the need for territorial integrity and the right for people's self-determination.

But Aliyev rejected Sarkisian's criticism a few hours later when he appeared at a press conference in Brussels with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Road To Peace

On the charge of "anti-Armenian racism," he said it was Azerbaijanis who were "the victims [of] aggression and therefore the moods in our society are different from the moods of the society in Armenia.”

He maintained that Azerbaijan accepted the Madrid Principles as a basis for negotiations and said he hoped that "Armenia will do the same."

"[If adopted] the principles, which on the one hand provide the restoration of [the] territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and at the same time [a] high-level of self-governance for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh...will be the road to peace," he said.

For his part, Barroso said the EU strongly supported a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

"It is high time to make additional efforts to finalize agreement on the so-called basic principles," Barroso said. "I hope that the two parties will be able to move forward; as I stated, the status quo is not an option."

Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian-majority enclave located within Azerbaijani borders.

Ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan won control of the territory in a war that ended with a cease-fire in 1994.

But Nagorno-Karabakh's final status remains unresolved, and the situation in and around the enclave remains volatile.
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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

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