Journal of Turkish Weekly
July 13 2010

YEREVAN -- The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan avoided
face-to-face talks on the sidelines of an informal summit of seven
former Soviet republics held in Yalta, Ukraine over the weekend,
RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian's office said the summit
attendees discussed ways of boosting "economic integration"
within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It reported
no separate meetings between Sarkisian and other participants, who
included Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russia President
Dmitry Medvedev.

Sarkisian and Aliyev have often used CIS summits for negotiations
on the conflict over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of
Nagorno-Karabakh. Sarkisian spokesman Armen Arzumanian told RFE/RL
ahead of the summit that no such meeting was planned at Yalta.

Aliyev and Sarkisian last met on June 17 in St. Petersburg, for talks
hosted by Medvedev. That meeting was followed by the most serious
Armenian-Azerbaijani cease-fire violation in Karabakh in more than
two years, which heightened tensions between the conflicting sides.

Four Armenian soldiers and one Azerbaijani soldier were killed in
fighting on the region's "line of contact" the night of June18.

The United States, Russia, and France have urged both sides to exercise
restraint and iron out their differences on a framework peace accord
proposed by the OSCE's Minsk Group. They hope to broker further
progress in the negotiating process at an meeting this week in Almaty,
Kazakhstan between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers.

However, recriminations traded between Baku and Yerevan in recent days
have thrown doubt on the chances of a successful Almaty meeting. The
Armenian Foreign Ministry on July 9 strongly denied Azerbaijani claims
that the Almaty talks will focus on details of an Armenian troop
withdrawal from Azerbaijani territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.

A spokesman for Bako Sahakian -- the leader of the self-proclaimed
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic -- said today that the authorities in
Stepanakert have no expectations from the Almaty meeting because of
Azerbaijan's "extremely nonconstructive" position.

Davit Babayan told RFE/RL that "[Baku's position] leaves no room for
the search for a mutually acceptable compromise solution."

Babayan pointed to the Azerbaijani leaders' insistence that the
principle of territorial integrity take precedence over that of
peoples' self-determination as championed by the Armenian side.

"They must understand one thing," Babayan said. "For Karabakh, a
return to 1988, in terms of both the status and territory, is out of
the question."

From: A. Papazian