Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has been hosting his Armenian and Azeri counterparts in a bid to settle a long-running row over a disputed region.
Nagorno-Karabakh was at the top of the agenda at a three -way summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the territory in the 1990s. Despite a ceasefire in 1994, no final settlement has been reached. Inside what is internationally recognised as Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by Armenians.
Speaking ahead of his talks with Armenia’s Serge Sarkisian, Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev told euronews that Armenian troops must pull out.
“Self-governance of the region can be successfully implemented within the framework of territorial integrity of the countries. From this point of view, we are optimistic,” he said.
“But in order for this optimism to be converted into real results, we need the Armenian side to show realism and constructiveness and to start withdrawing its troops which illegally occupy Azerbaijani territory for many years.”
Most of Nagorno Karabakh’s population is ethnic Armenian. Conflict broke out after it declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.
Russia, France and the US are leading efforts to resolve the dispute, co-chairing the OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group.