MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believed there is sufficient good will to resolve the Karabakh conflict as he hosted Sunday the leaders of archfoes Armenia and Azerbaijan.
At the meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia, Putin expressed satisfaction that both leaders had expressed their commitment to seek a peaceful resolution of a conflict that has dragged on for a quarter of a century.
“Of course, any difficult situation can be resolved if there is good will. There exists good will of the Azerbaijani people and of the Armenian people,” Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies at the talks being held in his summer house at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have escalated as ex-Soviet republics are uneasily watching the Kremlin’s historic confrontation with the West over Ukraine.
A shaky cease-fire has become even more tenuous in recent weeks with a spate of clashes that have left at least 23 dead.
Even as their leaders were in Sochi, holding separate bilateral talks with Putin Saturday, clashes continued along the so-called line of contact. Shooting and shelling overnight killed one Azerbaijani soldier and destroyed two houses in Armenia, according to news reports.
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev expressed “hope that in the near future through negotiations, peaceful means we will find a resolution in accordance with international principles and further justice.”
Meanwhile Sarkisian said Armenia “believes that in fact the conflict can be resolved, that it needs to be resolved on the basis of compromise, and on the basis of the principles proposed by the OSCE” mediators.
The blueprint for the resolution of the conflict would include a phased return of occupied regions around Nagorny Karabakh to Azerbaijan’s control, introduction of peacekeepers and a special transition status for the region, with residents getting a chance to express their will on its ultimate status within Azerbaijan.