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Trilateral presidential meeting held in Sochi on Jan 23 – 24 will be the last chance for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to achieve success in his mediation over Karabakh, Dutch expert Jos Boonstra told Armenian News –

Boonstra, who is the expert of Foundation  of International relations and External Dialogue (FRIDE, Spain), reminded that the early rounds of Medvedev-organized talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents, which started in late 2008, have not brought about concrete results.

The meeting in Sochi will be the 10th since then and likely the last one with the current line-up, with presidential elections due in Russia in early March, and in Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2013. In Russia, the competitor from the ruling United Russia (Yedinaya Rossiya party) is current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose bid for presidency leaves very little doubt both at home and internationally.

There was no concrete outcome either in much hoped-for meeting in Kazan last June. In that sense expectations are low for the upcoming gathering, said J. Boonstra.

The credibility of President Medvedev on the threshold of presidential elections in Russia may be not as high as it was before Kazan, as most likely Medvedev will be replaced by Putin.

“This is the last chance that Medvedev will have as President and he will be eager to achieve a success in international affairs and negotiations since his foreign policy achievements have been minor. On the other hand the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents are likely not to be responsive to Medvedev’s lead since they will be talking with Putin post March,” thinks  Boonstra. In that sense Medvedev is a lame duck that is unlikely to be able to push both sides in making concessions, he added.

“There are no indications that either Armenia or Azerbaijan will be more inclined to come to an agreement compared to last June,” he added.

In his words, the Russian initiative has nevertheless been genuine because Russia is concerned about the tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh and disappointed with the lack of progress while Moscow sees good relations with both conflicting parties as essential.

“Russia clearly is the most influential actor in the South Caucasus, leaving the EU, US and Turkey far behind. If there is one party that can push both sides to an agreement it is Russia,”he underscored.

But Medvedev’s initiative has also partially side-tracked the OSCE Minsk Group of the US, France and Russia which might have negative consequences later on if Putin decides not to continue Medvedev’s efforts.

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