Looks like Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev cannot get enough of each other. On Tuesday they met for a third time this year in
Supposedly they are making progress, as President Aliyev had announced that both sides were "already approaching the final phase of negotiations." What that entails is still to be determined, because no one is revealing any details--not them, the Foreign Ministers of both countries, nor members of the "Minsk Group," which was appointed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and is supposed to be encouraging the leaders to come up with a final solution to the conflict sometime this century. Apparently, according to information the group released just before the talks, "complementary elements" were on the table as a measure to come up with a solution, whatever that means. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has added to his eternal list of vague statements that "the presidents assessed the meeting as positive in terms of atmosphere and constructive approaches." I suppose that may mean the meeting room was pretty decked out and plenty of iced vodka was made handy.
Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sargsyan said that there should be "dignified peace" as a result, and regarding the return of occupied territories/liberated lands, depending on who you speak with, he said that he "never specified whether we should surrender 15 meters, 20 meters or 500 kilometers [of land]... That’s not important to me. The important thing is to have mutual compromise.” I guess that means he's all for giving back the territories if that's what it takes--it doesn't seem to be very important to him, even though he (as well as President Kocharian) is a native of Karabagh.
I've often expressed my opinion about this supposed peace deal of which no one really seems to know the minute intricacies, which you can read about here and here. We only know for certain that a referendum was meant to be held 10 years after a deal was signed to determine Karabagh’s official status, and that the territories would all go back except possibly one of them, depending on how drunk Aliyev is if and when they sign an agreement. Although there is discussion that there may be a final decision on a settlement by the end of the year, it doesn't seem like there is much buzz in the community, not surprisingly. I haven't heard the president of Nagorno-Karabagh Arkady Ghukasian mention anything, although he is supposedly vehemently opposed to the talks since he is being left out of them. One thing that was revealed regarding how people in Karabagh feel, however, was that a constitutional referendum is scheduled to be held on December 10. Meanwhile, at least one Armenian government official has publicly stated that he believed no peace deal would be reached in the next few years, since 2007 and 2008 are election years in both
So it seems that the people in general are not taking a peace solution seriously, are indifferent, or are defiant, depending again on who you talk to. The officials of both countries have insurmountable pounds of pressure pressed against their heads to finish this thing once and for all, and it appears that the Armenian side is willing to solve the problem at all costs, judging from the statements I read, some of which I quoted above. I don't know when the Minsk Group or whoever is responsible will finally reveal what's in the peace pudding, but I think the citizens of both
You can read more about the meeting here.