- Mnatsakanyan, Lavrov emphasize importance of ceasefire agreement
- ‘Azerbaijan has become a hotbed of international terrorism,’ warns Mnatsakanyan
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, warned that any effort to alter the format of the Karabakh conflict settlement talks was inadmissible, adding that further delays to the negotiation process is simply “wrong.”
Russia’s top diplomat was referring to recent comments by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who in a statement suggested the “Turkey must play a more active role in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement process, both within the frames of the Minsk Group and other formats.”
“We reiterate that [Karabakh] negotiations process and format cannot be altered,” Lavrov said on Monday during a joint press conference with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan who is in Moscow on an official visit.
Lavrov added that Moscow has reaffirmed its commitment to mediating a settlement of the Karabakh conflict based on the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, who he said were in Moscow and will be meeting with Mnatsakanyan. The co-chairs met with Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Thursday in Geneva.
Saying that Aliyev welcomed Saturday’s humanitarian ceasefire agreement, which stipulated that the format of the settlement talks would not change, Lavrov announced that in a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday, he had secured Ankara’s support for the effort.
The Russian foreign minister stressed that delays in the peace talks are “wrong,” adding that observing the ceasefire agreement was of utmost importance, while acknowledging that fragile truce is not being maintained.
“At the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin we spent last Friday and a part of last Saturday in this building together with our Azerbaijani counterpart, and an important agreement was reached. But we see that the agreement is not being fully observed, and the combat operations are continuing,” said Lavrov adding that ongoing talks with foreign ministers, as well as defense ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will “ensure the fulfillment of agreements reached.”
He and Mnatsakanyan spoke of ways to resolve the conflict, with Lavrov telling reporters that Armenia would discuss details with the Minsk Group co-chairs.
Mnatsakanyan said that existential threat to Artsakh, about which Armenia has warned for decades, has matured, emphasizing the need for Azerbaijan to adhere to the provisions of this weekend’s agreement. He suggested that mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that the ceasefire is observed.
“The true goals of resolving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict through force are being openly presented,” he said, adding that the Azerbaijan’s ambitions to physically eliminate the people of Artsakh are no longer a secret.
Mnatsakanyan briefed Lavrov on the civilian casualties and the vast damages to civilian structures, among them the Gazanchetsots Cathedral, that occurred as a result of the Azeri attacks. He said that the Azeri military has deployed artillery, rocket, UAV and air force as well as banned cluster munitions against the peaceful population.
“Azerbaijan is not fulfilling its commitments under the ceasefire agreement. Through genocidal steps Azerbaijan does not differentiate between military and civilian targets. Furthermore, it is more inclined to target the civilian population,” said Mnatsakanyan.
“During its military aggression Azerbaijan has targeted over 120 civilian settlements in Artsakh, including the capital Stepanakert, the city of Shushi and towns of Hadrut, Martakert and Martuni. The absence of military facilities in the targeted civilian settlements once again prove that Azerbaijan’s actions amount to military crimes,” explained Mnatsakanyan.
Armenia’s top diplomat also warned that by deploying Ankara-backed jihadists in its aggression toward Artsakh, Azerbaijan has become a hotbed of international terrorism in the region.
“This aggression is different in a sense that Turkey has directly interfered. There are also armed terrorists in Azerbaijan from Syria and Libya which Turkey’s is using to advance its own interests,” said Mnatsakanyan who added that Russia’s role in the matter is “quite important.”
The Minister stated that Azerbaijan doesn’t implement the agreement reached during the talks of the Armenian, Russian and Azerbaijani FMs on October 9, regarding the cessation of hostilities.