Yesterday, President Obama placed calls to Armenian President Serzh Sargsian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In each conversation, he encouraged his counterparts to take concrete steps toward a final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has undermined peace and development in the South Caucasus for over 20 years.
Reaffirming the statement he issued with French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev in Deauville last month, the President called upon both sides to engage constructively at the summit that President Medvedev convened today at Kazan, Russia.
While the two leaders made progress today, they have more work to do to reach agreement on the Basic Principles that would form the basis of a final peace agreement. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced that “mutual understanding [was] achieved on a number of issues whose resolution contributes to the creation of the conditions for the approval of the Basic Principles.”
The President told both leaders yesterday that if Armenia and Azerbaijan demonstrate the leadership and courage to seize the opportunity created by the recent momentum in the talks, the United States will stand by them. Now is the time, he said, to offer the people of the region a better future for themselves and for their children.
Liz Sherwood-Randall is Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs.