Caucasian knot may be untied in Moscow
Seven hundred couples getting married at the same time – that's what you can truly call a mass celebration.
Such a large-scale wedding is an unusual event for any place, but especially for Nagorno-Karabakh, a land with a grim past and uncertain future.
As the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia meet in Moscow to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, the main question is how effective will the talks be.
Aleksandr Karavayev from the Centre for CIS Studies at Moscow State University doesn't expect much from these talks. He does admit, however, that they could serve as a conduit to further meetings.
“We shouldn't expect any breakthroughs, but perhaps this new format of talks could help Armenia and Azerbaijan create a new base for further negotiations,” Karavayev says.
So far, attempts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute have been mediated by the twelve-member Minsk Group of the OSCE, co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France.
The idea of a separate, three-way meeting between the two sides and Russia was proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev during his recent visit to Armenia.
“France and the U.S. are not regional players in this dispute and can only monitor from outside, but Russia is. The new format doesn't replace the Minsk Group and Washington has already said it's not against this idea,” says Karavayev.
Nagorno-Karabakh is mostly populated by Armenians and used to be part of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in the USSR.
In 1991 the region unilaterally declared independence, which resulted in several years of violence and tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the area.
Since the ceasefire in 1994, most of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as a number of regions of Azerbaijan in close proximity, remain under joint Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh military control.
Armenia remains committed to the region’s independence, while Azerbaijan says its territorial integrity must be respected.