Following Sunday's meeting between Russian President Dimitry Medvedev and his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Serge Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, the upbeat tone of the mainstream international media in reporting a declaration on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict signed by the three has not been echoed by Armenian bloggers. Indeed, if anything, most appear to consider the declaration, which reiterates existing verbal agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the 1994 ceasefire, to be simply for show.
Despite some initially cautious optimism regarding an agreement based on principles apparently discussed but not disclosed last year in Madrid, Unzipped simply described the declaration read out on Russian TV to be nothing more than empty words.
I am afraid I do not share excitement of number of news agencies which specifically mention that for the first time in 14-15 years, Armenian and Azeri presidents signed under the “Declaration”. So what? There were always meetings and discussions on various levels, including presidents, over the past decade but nothing came out of the negotiations, for real. The only reason that today Armenian and Azeri presidents signed under the “Declaration” is because this was a meeting initiated by Russia, and (taking into account current geopolitical situation in the region) Russia had to show that it achieved some kind of ‘breakthrough’ even if there is none.
The Armenian Observer also noted that expectations were high leading up to the meeting at the Mayendorf castle just outside of Moscow, but while saying that speculation over an imminent peace deal might still remain, it looks more like an attempt by Russia to prove something to the West.
It is also noteworthy, that this initiative of Russia’s Medvedev comes on the wake of presidential elections in the USA. Is Russia trying to prove somehing by this or just trying to use the opportunity to improve it’s image making use of inaction from the side of US?
The Armenia Blog also appears to agree.
Sounds like a waste of time to me, unless one side gives up. We all know it won't be Azerbaijan and we all know that Serzh has indicated that he would trade or willingly give up some lands altogether.
Probably a non-event, but we'll see.
Nevertheless, the Yerevan Journal relays the general reaction from different sections of the population in Armenia to the news.
[…] Talk here ranges from the Dashnaks saying they’re ready to take even more territories in Azerbaijan if fighting resumes, to freedom fighters and die-hards saying they’re not about to give up even a handful of soil in the liberated territories, to the Armenian president stating that he won’t sign anything unless peace keepers are placed in the territories (once Armenians pull out), that Armenia retains a land corridor with Karabagh (Lachin), and that the citizens of Karabagh have the right to vote for their future. […]
Meanwhile, Real Armenia provides an unofficial translation into English of the declaration signed by the three presidents and read out by Medvedev. The World Politics Review blog seems to largely agree with the response from the Armenian blogosphere and considers the declaration as a publicity stunt.
Medvedev seems to be taking a page out of Nicolas Sarkozy's playbook here, where the important thing is to have one's picture taken at the center of a summit meeting many thought could not be arranged. No one really expects anyone to get results in this sort of slow motion standoff, so the image of wielding influence (getting the parties to the table) becomes worth more than the ability to actually influence the standoff itself.
That's all Russia has right now, but it's about all Russia needs right now, too.
Meanwhile, most other prominent Armenian bloggers seem to have ignored the event entirely. However, West of Igdir examines recent geopolitical moves in the region as well as past hopes for peace. The blogger says that a breakthrough is needed, but asks at what price?