Mr Putin and Mr Kocharian discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the general situation in the Caucasus and various aspects of bilateral cooperation.
While opening their informal meeting at the Constantine Palace in Strelna, Mr Putin recalled that not long ago, on November 26, he had spoken about the future prospects for Nagorno-Karabakh settlement at a meeting with the spiritual leaders of the Caucasus and in a telephone conversation with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. President Putin said that the results of these negotiations were evidence of the Azerbaijani leadership’s positive mood, although the problem was complex and deeply rooted.
Mr Putin said Russia was ready to take part in the peace process provided its help was required. But the Nagorno-Karabakh issue was above all a matter for direct political dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a dialogue wholly supported by the Russian side.
During their meeting, Mr Putin and Mr Kocharyan also discussed the situation in Georgia. They noted that political processes in that country were important not only for Georgia itself, but also for other countries. Russia, President Putin said, was prepared to work with any leadership chosen by the Georgian people. Responsibility for political processes in Georgia was borne, he said, by those political forces that headed them. Russia had a vested interest in seeing that the law is followed in Georgia and the processes are legitimate.
Mr Putin and Mr Kocharian also spoke of how to resolve the problem of Armenia’s debt to Russia and develop trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Mr Putin stressed that trade turnover between the two countries, although fairly small in terms of value, had risen by 84% in the first nine months of the year. Mr Kocharian, in turn, expressed his belief that there was considerable room for further growth.