Lavrov Discusses Karabakh Conflict with OSCE Chairman

OSCE Chairman Audronius Azyubalis

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the Nagorno-Karabkah conflict Wednesday with his Lithuanian counterpart Audronius Ažubalis, whose country holds the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Russian Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The OSCE’s Minsk Group, co-chaired by the US, France and Russia, has been mediating efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabkh conflict.

The two ministers briefed reporters after they met to discuss the OSCE’s priorities in the various conflict zones of the former Soviet Union, focusing primarily on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, left frozen since a cease-fire was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1994 ending the fighting.

According to the Russia-24 TV station, Lavrov underscored the need to resolve the Karabakh conflict peacefully to prevent “humanitarian problems” for the population living in the conflict zone.

Lavrov also spoke of a need to agree upon a set of common principles to be applied to the resolution of all conflicts under the OSCE’s purview. It’s likely he was referring to the competing principles of territorial integrity and a people’s right to self-determination that underpin the Minsk Group’s basic peace plan for Karabakh.

Russia’s chief diplomat said it was important to resolve the conflict peacefully while also taking into account the position of all parties involved. He also said the OSCE should not allow a humanitarian crisis to erupt in the conflict zone.

Ažubalis, for his part, said the two diplomats also discussed the OSCE’s plans for “achieving tangible progress” in 2011 on all the protracted conflicts in the former soviet space.

“We will work to resume official negotiations in ‘5+2′ format on Transdniestria and build on the positive dynamics achieved last year,” he said. “We support the Geneva international discussions and the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and promote confidence building between the parties to the conflict.”

“In this context, we support Russia’s efforts aimed at making progress towards a negotiated settlement [of the Karabakh conflict],” Ažubalis added.

Ažubalis will be in Moscow until Friday. According to Itar-Tass, he will meet State Duma officials, human rights advocates, members of civil society and mass media and will focus on raising energy security and media freedom issues in his remaining meetings.

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