Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 67

Kocharian’s visit to Georgia followed that of Azerbaijan’s President Haidar Aliev the preceding week (see the Monitor, March 20, April 3 and the Fortnight in Review, March 31). As Aliev and Kocharian suggested in their public statements, the bilateral peace negotiations are stalled due to the unsettled political situations in Armenia and (most recently) Karabakh. Both presidents, however, signaled their willingness to resume the series of their direct meetings, once the situation stabilizes and credited each other with a willingness to seek a compromise.

During Kocharian’s visit, Shevardnadze made public his idea that Aliev and Kocharian institutionalize their direct negotiations by holding regular monthly meetings on the Karabakh problem. The Georgian president offered to host some of those meetings in Tbilisi, short of mediating them himself: The Aliev-Kocharian negotiations by definition constitute an unmediated process since its inception (with Washington’s encouragement) nearly a year ago. Shevardnadze’s idea is to expand that bilateral format once Aliev and Kocharian have laid the basis of a settlement over Karabakh. At that stage, Georgia could join the process in order not only to help finalize the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement but also to introduce the Abkhazia issue as a subject for trilateral deliberation. In Shevardnadze’s view, the presidents of the three South Caucasus countries could then settle the region’s conflicts themselves (Prime-News, Kavkasia-Press, Georgian Television, Turan, Space TV, March 29-31).

The proposal would imply bypassing the inherently ineffective Minsk format, whose participants would ultimately be reduced to blessing a settlement reached directly by the parties to the conflict. It would also deny Moscow the spoiler’s role it has played in the two sets of negotiations on Karabakh and Abkhazia. It would, moreover, create and potentially institutionalize a South Caucasus trilateral presidential forum, reducing even more the significance of quadrilateral summits which Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin insists on holding with Shevardnadze, Aliev and Kocharian during the CIS summits in Moscow. While prepared to defer to Putin’s considerations of prestige in holding such meetings, the South Caucasus presidents seem prepared to seek among themselves the solutions to the region’s conflicts.

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at pubs@jamestown.org, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions