Russian Deputy Chief of Staff Comments on Karabakh Conflict

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Moscow believes that a direct Armenian-Azeri dialogue is needed to settle the dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. "Constructive accords are only possible on this track," said Sergei Prikhodko–deputy chief of staff of the Russian president.

Prikhodko emphasized that Russia’sticks to its international commitmen’s as a member of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russia believes that the better its relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan–the more effective role it can play in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict–he said.

A source in the Russian delegation said the Russian president may visit Armenia this year. The visit may be timed with the festivities marking the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia. Reports from Baku on Tuesday said Moscow and Baku signed nine documen’s during the official visit to Azerbaijan by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The documen’s include a joint statement on principles of co-operation in the Caspian Sea and a declaration on principles of security and co-operation in the Caucasus–to be signed by the Russian and Azerbaijan leaders.

Prikhodko said the Baku declaration sums up not only a long bilateral discussion–but also the work of the whole "Caucasian Four." He emphasized that there are "new elemen’s" in the declaration. Russia believes that Azerbaijan is its long-term partner and that they should discuss all issues–including security in the Caucasus.

The second document–a joint statement on the Caspian Sea is "serious headway towards a consensus between all the Caspian states–and expansion of interaction with Azerbaijan.

As regards oil transportation–we proceed from the point that Russian and Azeri routes complement each other–he explained.

Moscow and Baku also signed five inter- governmental economic and financial agreemen’s–as well as an inter-departmental agreement on cooperation in information security.

The leadership of the Russian company–LUKOIL–and Azerbaijan’s state oil company signed an accord on prospecting and developing oil fields on the Apsheron Peninsula–and on production sharing. According to Prikhodko–the Russian-Azeri documen’s show that the dialogue is not one-sided–that is it isn’t exclusively focused on politics or the Caspian Sea. "This is the result of progress in many directions and we are satisfied with it," he said.

"There is mutual understanding that the earlier pause in Russian-Azerbaijan political contacts and flagging attention to economic issues were incorrect," he added.

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