more images In compliance with a preliminary agreement, on November 2 the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, had a meeting at the Maindorf Castle in Moscow.
The President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev joined Sargsyan and Aliyev after the two-hour face-to-face meeting, and the negotiations continued in a trilateral format.
Following the meeting the Presidents of the three countries signed a declaration in presence of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and mass media representatives.
The declaration calls for a peaceful settlement of the conflict on the basis of international law and decisions and documents adopted within this framework to create favorable conditions for economic development and comprehensive cooperation in the region.
Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed that the peaceful resolution should be accompanied by judicially biding international guarantees and stressed the importance of continuation of mediating efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The Presidents agreed that further discussion is needed for working out the main principles of settlement.
The full text of the declaration signed by the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia is presented below,
Having held substantive discussions in a constructive spirit on the state and prospects for political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through a continuation of direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia through the mediation of Russia, the USA and France as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,
1. Declare that they will facilitate improvement of the situation in the South Caucasus and establish stability and security in the region through political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the principles of international law and the decisions and documents approved within this framework, thus creating favourable conditions for economic growth and all-round cooperation in the region.
2. Affirm the importance of having the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group continue their mediation efforts, including based on the outcome of the meeting between the parties in Madrid on November 29, 2007, and subsequent discussions on further steps to agree on the basic principles for political settlement.
3. Agree that peace settlement should be accompanied by legally binding guarantees for every aspect and stage of the settlement process.
4. Note that the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to continue work, including through further contacts at the highest level, on reaching a political settlement to the conflict and have instructed the heads of their respective foreign ministries to work together with the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group to activate the negotiation process.
5. Consider it important to encourage the establishment of conditions for carrying out confidence-building measures in the context of work on a peace settlement.
THE MAINDORF DECLARATION
- On November 2, at the Maindorf Castle in Moscow Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents signed a declaration under the patronage of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which is the first document signed by the two parties after the ceasefire agreement in 1994. In this sense, the document is historical, as the official Moscow seems to do the impossible thing - it persuaded the two countries' presidents to sign the same document simultaneously. However, more important is what the parties gain from signing the declaration.
We would like to present the main provisions of the declaration that are of great importance and can influence the developments of .
According to the first clause of the document, the parties "will facilitate the improvement of the situation in the South Caucasus and establishment of stability and security in the region through a political settlement of the conflict based on the principles and norms of international law and the decisions and documents adopted in this framework to create favorable conditions for economic development and comprehensive cooperation in the region". In other words, the parties exclude military resolution of the issue, at least in coming years, and the negotiation process will continue within the principles of the international law, or, correctly, in combination with it. Of course, it doesn't mean that Aliyev will stop his war-like announcements, but they will not be as sharp as before.
According to the second clause (the parties "reinstate the importance of the mediating efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, taking into consideration their meeting with the parties on November 29, 2007 and the future discussions held for the purpose of working out the main principles of political settlement"), the Madrid principles will be the basis for the future discussions, and new principles will not be worked out, at least in the nearest future.
The third clause (the parties "agree that the peaceful resolution should be accompanied by judicially biding international guarantees in all aspects and stages of settlement) is probably the sincerest clause of the document, as, according to it, the parties cannot act without international countries' consent, for example, they cannot transfer the issue to the UN, and they have to take into consideration the viewpoints of the mediator countries in the whole process of negotiations; it means that their mediation will continue to be active.
The fourth clause mentions that "the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to continue the efforts for the political settlement of the conflict and instructed the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to take more active steps in that direction through cooperation with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs". This clause assures that only Russia, USA and France continue to be the mediators in the negotiation process of the conflict settlement, and Turkish and Iranian desire to have their place in the mediator processes is declined from the very outset.
The last clause of the declaration (the parties "emphasize the importance of creating conditions that will contribute to the reinforcement of trust within the framework of the efforts targeted at the settlement of the conflict") has a declarative nature to conclude the document competently.
The main question to be answered is "Why was the signing of the declaration necessary?" It was necessary for the Co-chair countries that followed unwillingly other countries' attempts to be involved in the regional developments. It was also necessary for Russia to affirm once more that the most important place for the resolution of the issue is not Washington or Paris but Moscow. It means that Russia strengthening its positions in the South Caucasus needed one more announcement of its reinforcement and the Maindorf declaration was a brilliant PR action for it, especially against the background of the Georgian conflict.
- By Armen Manvelian, translated by L.H.