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Friday, March 16, 2018

Aliyev and Sargsyan at the meeting with Putin refused to shake hands

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan arrived at the talks in Saint Petersburg with a closed visor. Already a formal meeting of each of them with Vladimir Putin showed that none of the parties are not ready to compromise. After meeting in the Oval living room Konstantinovsky Palace, Sargsyan and Aliyev didn’t shake hands and deliberately stone-faced sat down opposite each other. Yielding to the General mood, Putin, too, was laconic.

American and French co-chairs of the OSCE working group for negotiations was not invited.

photo: kremlin.ru

Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan arrived in St. Petersburg almost at the same time. Long tuples one by one went to the side of the Konstantinovsky Palace, on whose territory each delegation was taken on a separate cottage.

The program of talks was announced by the Russian side in advance: first, Vladimir Putin privately met with the President of Armenia and leader of the Azerbaijani people waiting in neutral territory), then they switch places.

However, as told “MK” accompanying, Aliyev and Sargsyan have long been familiar with each other and generally maintain normal personal relationships. Their Sizzling looks and hostile rhetoric is addressed primarily to an internal audience: the two leaders are under the pressure of public opinion, which does not allow even the slightest hint of concessions. According to opinion polls, 80 percent of Azerbaijanis favor a military solution to the NKR problem and to return it under the control of Baku. At the same time 82% of Armenians are ready with arms to defend the independence of Karabakh. It is clear that in such a situation, to find common ground extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Each bilateral meeting was scheduled to last about half an hour (in fact it took about one and a half). Both presidents Putin for the beginning I proposed to discuss bilateral relations and turnover with Armenia increased, and with Azerbaijan, in contrast, fell.

However, Serzh Sargsyan, apparently, was not disposed to exchange meaningless pleasantries, though, and glad Sunny weather, established in St. Petersburg after a rainy weekend. “I’m not going to dwell on bilateral issues, there is no problem”, – he said, proposing to go straight to the main agenda. “Everyone knows our position on Karabakh. We want this issue was resolved peacefully. But unfortunately, at the request of one party, such conflicts are not solved”, – said the Armenian President.

Ilham Aliyev behaved more diplomatically, began meeting with Putin with congratulations on the occasion of the successful completion of the forum. However, the main point of negotiations, Azerbaijan’s position has not changed. “The conflict dragged on, the current status quo is unacceptable. To have it changed, you need to start the liberation of the territory of Azerbaijan, which over 20 years is under occupation,” – said Aliyev.

Press Secretary of Vladimir Putin Dmitry Peskov since morning hinted that a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue in St. Petersburg is not expected. The main purpose is to “insure” against the resumption of hostilities and not give the abyss the developments on the settlement, he explained to journalists.

Among these “developments” known as the agreement on ceasefire of 1994 and the Moscow Declaration of 2008 – the only document in the NKR, which bears the signatures of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. All subsequent bids (including those that were announced at a recent meeting of Sargsyan and Aliyev in Vienna) are in fact “interpretations” initiatives several years ago.

The Armenian President in bilateral meeting with Putin, announced that it expects progress on the implementation of the agreements on the establishment of a mechanism of investigation of ceasefire violations. This is now the main task of Yerevan – to show the international community that Baku is guilty of a resumption of hostilities on the contact line.

Aliyev, who inherited from his father Heydar nickname “sly Fox”, his program-at least did not disclose, saying only that he expects to bring a “structural dynamics” to the negotiations. However, its goals so well known – the first step Baku wants to regain control of several (according to some reports, five of the seven) bordering the NKR areas, which are currently used as buffer zone.

Journalists had hoped that Vladimir Putin will Express its position, and will announce new initiatives for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a trilateral meeting with Aliyev and Saranam.

It was originally planned to be held in the format of a working Breakfast, but due to a three-hour delay Breakfast segued into something between a late lunch and early dinner. The waiters lined up behind a thin partition, so as not to disturb, media, trying not to rattle devices. But listening to it was almost nothing.

Aliyev and Sargsyan seated opposite each other and wait until the photographers will take pictures of the next joint meeting for the history, Mr Putin said literally the following: “We have already discussed in a bilateral format, and now the three of us will talk.” After that the meeting was held behind closed doors. At the time of signing the numbers the outcome was not known. Press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov warned that the negotiations will be difficult. No public statements on their results, not pre-planned.

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