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Political analyst expects no results from Azeri, Armenian Presidents' meeting

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A political scholar sees no grounds for expecting positive results from the upcoming meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Kazan, Russia.

"The meeting will not be any more important than the previous ones," analyst Rasim Musabayov told AssA-Irada.

Musabayov said the previous meeting of the two presidents held in Key West, USA yielded no results despite its high level.

"I believe the chances for results at Kazan meeting are 50-50. It may be fruitful or fruitless. The previous experience shows that the sides tend to take final steps backward instead of forward when they reach the decisive point. Therefore, I can't say ahead of time that the meeting will be beneficial," he said.

Musabayov said the current positions of the conflicting sides are contradictory, as Azerbaijan calls for withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories, while Armenia - determination of the Nagorno Karabakh status.

"From this viewpoint, the positions of the sides are not getting any closer. If a compromise alternative is found, the issue can be moved forward from the current deadlock," Musabayov said.

As for the liberation of seven occupied districts around Karabakh, the analyst said freeing them simultaneously will be difficult. "Liberation of the occupied regions based on the '5+1+1' formula seems real," he said.

The formula envisions freeing five Azeri regions from under Armenian occupation first, followed by signing of a peace accord and liberation of the other two regions.

Musabayov went on to say that the general situation with the Karabakh conflict has changed in favor of Azerbaijan over the recent period. Russia's positions in the South Caucasus are weakening, this country's military bases are being withdrawn from Georgia, while Armenia is losing communication links with Russia, which is in favor of Azerbaijan, he said. Armenia is concerned over this, said Musabayov.

"Russia, which is the eternal ally of Armenia, understands too that it will lose its positions in the Caucasus by prolonging the conflict resolution."

Musabayov said that another factor stipulating Azerbaijan's prevalent position is that the country's financial potential is increasing. Whereas military spending of Armenia makes up $200 million per year, the figure is $300 million in Azerbaijan.

The political analyst pointed out that Azerbaijan's potential will allow spending $500 million for the military in 2006 and bringing the figure to $1 billion in two years.

Armenia would have to commit its entire budget for defense in order to withstand competition, which is impossible, he said.

"Armenians therefore think they should take a step today rather than be forced to accept peace in a few years. These are the factors giving a positive impetus to peace. But it is difficult to say whether this will be enough for Armenia to give up its persistence," he added.

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