by Ashot Safaryan
On August 10 Russian leader Vladimir Putin convened a trilateral meeting between himself, Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev in Sochi. The immediate aim seems to have been successful. That was to dampen down the fighting that flared up on the Nagorny Karabakh Line of Contact and Armenian-Azerbaijani border and killed several dozen soldiers in the last two weeks. But it was striking how vague the public statements after the meeting were, British expert Tom de Waal says in his recent article.
Turan quotes de Waal as saying that Aliyev and Sargsyan did their host the favor of saying they supported a peaceful resolution of the conflict, while exchanging a few barbs with one another about historical details.
"They said nothing on issues of substance, however. There was no announcement on strengthening the 1994 ceasefire to prevent the death of dozens of young men on the ceasefire line becoming "the new normal." A proposal has been on the table since 2011 to establish an "incident investigation mechanism," but is still not implemented.
Azerbaijan flexes its muscles and emits ever more bellicose noises. Before he left for Sochi, President Ilham Aliyev launched an astonishing barrage of 57 tweets, with declarations such as, "We will restore our sovereignty. The flag of Azerbaijan will fly in all the occupied territories, including Shusha and Khankandi." After Sochi, Sargsyan responded in macho style. He said that his country had missiles with a 300-km-radius which could turn Azerbaijani towns into "Aghdam"-a chilling reference to the leveled Azerbaijani city outside Karabakh under Armenian control.
All this suggests that Russia is as out of ideas as anyone else on how to control the conflict. The Russians will take what benefits they can from the status quo, while seeking to stop a new war from beginning. In the fall the United States will try to convene a meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly and French President Francois Hollande will invite Aliyev and Sargsyan to Paris. Putin meanwhile will get back to dealing with Ukraine. There was no suggestion that he plans another Karabakh summit any time soon," says the expert.