Question: Mr President, what are the results of today’s trilateral meeting? Why is it that 16 years have gone by since the ceasefire was concluded, but shots are still fired there to this day, and there is even talk of rising tension? How do the participants in the talks – Mr Aliyev and Mr Sargsyan – assess the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, and what guarantees are they willing to give that the conflict will not resume once more and that troops will not step into action?
President OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: This is the seventh time now that I have held such talks. Overall, I think that these are very useful meetings even though they are not easy and the talks involve quite intense and sometimes emotional debate, and even though this is not an easy undertaking for the mediators either, for the Minsk Group, and for Russia as one of the Minsk Group’s co-chairs. First of all, any kinds of talks are better than having the conflict become active. Second, and perhaps most important, these are not just talks but are steps forward.
I can inform you now that the two parties have just signed a joint statement. This is a humanitarian agreement, but at the same time it is very important given the various difficulties that we still see in Azerbaijani-Armenian relations over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. This is a special declaration aimed at bolstering confidence-building measures so as to organise as swiftly as possible the exchange of prisoners of war and return the bodies of those killed. Though at first glance this is a serious but nonetheless private issue, it is very important because the two sides have not been engaged in open and direct confrontation for quite a long time now, but there are still problems, there are still shots being fired and people killed. The point comes when it is essential to look openly at the situation and take steps towards each other, attempting to work out perhaps small but nevertheless very important problems.
Another subject that we discussed today was of course the issue of a peace treaty and overall settlement. This has been on the agenda at all of our meetings since the meeting in Maiendorf in the Moscow Region, when the joint declaration was adopted. Today we discussed this subject too and agreed on the following points.
The general settlement principles that will later lay the peace treaty’s foundations have still to be agreed on, but we have nonetheless made progress that gives hope that if the two sides work hard over the coming month – and we will give this instruction to our foreign ministers – we could have an approved draft of the general settlement principles in time for the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan on December 1–2.
I emphasise that there are still many issues to sort out, but both sides seek to reach agreement on the differences over wording that still remain. Russia will continue its efforts. I believe that we can reach results and I think we have grounds for being reasonably optimistic. Of course, the main part of the work is still ahead.
Question: Mr President, I have one question on domestic matters. Around a month ago you gave the instruction to improve the draft law On the Police Force, taking into account the public discussions and discussions at the expert level. What is the situation with the draft law now, and when can we expect to see it submitted to the Duma?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you for asking me this question, and right at this moment, because it was a little more than a month ago now that the draft law was produced after being widely discussed at the national scale. These discussions did result in changes being made. A number of important amendments have been introduced to certain articles. Work also continued on the draft law’s wording. As things stand now, I can inform you that the document is ready and I will submit it to the State Duma today.
This does not mean that it is now closed for further discussion. It will go through all of the necessary discussion stages, for obvious reasons, and I am sure that further improvements to wording and perhaps even some new substance will be added. But whatever the case, the document’s basic outlines, taking into account the national public discussion, are ready for discussion in the parliament to begin. This work will start very soon. I hope very much that all of the political forces will join in a consolidated and coordinated discussion of the draft law, because it concerns all of our citizens, given the particular functions that the law enforcement agencies play in any country, including Russia.
Thank you very much. Goodbye.