Mr Putin met separately with each president the day before.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Aliyev, Mr Sargsyan,
Let me thank you once again for this chance to meet here in Russia. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to discuss bilateral relations with the President of Armenia and with the President of Azerbaijan. We also had some informal discussions in the evening. Thankfully, yesterday, we did not discuss any business matters, but we did have a chance to talk about various issues with each other. I think that this sets the right kind of atmosphere for being able to discuss the more serious and complicated issues related to reaching a settlement in the region.
There are international platforms of course to help us resolve these problems and settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. We most certainly respect these international groups and will continue to work together with our colleagues there.
At the same time though, our countries have particularly close relations and ties that reach back a long way, and this enables us to have a frank exchange of views on the state of affairs today and the steps we need to take to make progress in settling the problems we have inherited from the past. I think it is useful at any rate for us to talk and I am very pleased to have this chance to be with you today and discuss these matters.
If you want to add anything, please, go ahead.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you, Mr Putin.
Thank you for your attitude towards this issue. As we said yesterday, this dispute does need to be resolved. It has dragged on for too long. I hope that your personal involvement in this process will give new impetus to negotiations.
As you pointed out, we do have a format for negotiations, and there is a legal basis for settling the conflict. The UN Security Council passed four resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory. Unfortunately, more than 20 years have passed and these resolutions remain just words.
The Minsk Group has been working through its co-chairpersons to attempt to bring the parties closer together, but without great success. I think therefore that Russia, as our close friend, partner and neighbour, can of course play a particular role in the settlement process. I hope that through negotiations and peaceful means we will soon reach a settlement that will respect the norms and principles of international law and also be fair and just.
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan: Thank you, Mr Putin, for your effort and for the time and attention you are giving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict at such a difficult moment. We in Armenia appreciate this very much.
We think that it is possible to settle this conflict. We need to reach a compromise based on the principles the co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group proposed. Azerbaijan continually refers to the four UN resolutions, but I could put the rhetorical question to Mr Aliyev: which point of these resolutions has Azerbaijan implemented? Only Armenia has actually implemented any of this resolution’s provisions, using its influence to end military operations.
If we return to the events of the early 1990s, I think it would be good on the one hand, but on the other would end up with problems remaining unresolved. It would be good in the sense that back then we realised and agreed that this conflict could not be settled by military means. But if we start laying the blame on each other again now, I think it will be a long time before we manage to resolve this conflict.
I am grateful to you for your commitment to finding a solution to this issue. It is in Armenia’s national interests to settle this issue.
Vladimir Putin: I am pleased to see that the President of Azerbaijan spoke of the need to settle the conflict through peaceful means, and you have just said the same. This really is the most important thing, as there is no greater tragedy than people being killed.
But we need to remember that the roots of this conflict go back a long way and it is something we have inherited from the past, part of the legacy of the Soviet Union’s collapse, one should say. We need to show patience, wisdom, and respect for each other in order to find a solution.
Even the most difficult situations can be resolved if the good will is there. I think that the people of Azerbaijan and the people of Armenia do have this good will. So let’s discuss the issues now together, and then we will talk with our colleagues too and share our thoughts.