Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the Collective Security Treaty Organization is exploring the possibility of deploying observers to Nagorno-Karabakh as a means to create “favorable conditions” for settling the Karabakh conflict, the Tass news agency reported on Friday.
He also called on the Commonwealth of Independent States to support the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Not all CIS member-states are part of the CSTO. In fact, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova have formed their own security alliance known as GUAM.
In a recent interview published on Friday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk signaled that Moscow opposes the creation of a land corridor through Armenia that connects mainland Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan and Turkey. This has commonly been referred to as the “Zangezur Corridor”—a scheme advanced by Baku and backed by Ankara.
Overchuk stressed to the state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta that a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force, which he heads, has never discussed any “extraterritorial corridors” seemingly demanded by Azerbaijani leaders.
“It is important that in the course of the negotiations a principle was worked out, which formed the basis of approaches to defining this [transit] regime,” Overchuk said. “The principle is: ‘Sovereignty over a road is exercised by the country through whose territory the road passes.’ This means that if the road passes through Armenian territory, then this is an Armenian road, if [it passes] through Azerbaijani territory, then it is Azerbaijani.”
“Russia has always supported the principle of the sovereignty of the parties,” he said, adding that it stems from the Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This means that at the negotiations of the Trilateral Working Group of the Deputy Prime Ministers, there is and there can be no talk of any ‘extraterritorial corridor’ that would infringe the sovereignty of any of the parties in any way,” stressed the Russian vice-premier. “In practice, the implementation of this principle means that in order to enter the territory of Armenia from Azerbaijan via unblocked or newly built roads, border and passport control measures will be the same as, for example, when entering Armenia from Iran.”
“In the [Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani] negotiations we proceed from the fact that Armenia belongs to the EEU’s common customs area,” he said. “For us, the customs border of Armenia is also the customs border of Russia, while the customs border of Russia the customs border of Armenia.”