As the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were preparing to hold a virtual meeting with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs on Tuesday, a disagreement was brewing between Moscow and Yerevan, when Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that the negotiating sides were moving toward a phased, or stage-by-stage, approach to settle the Karabakh conflict.
Speaking at a virtual roundtable on Tuesday, Lavrov said that the negotiating sides were actively discussing a conflict settlement that proposed during a meeting in Moscow last year between the foreign minister of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov.
“There are Madrid principles, there are documents prepared by the Russian Federation in 2010-2011, the so-called Kazan document. There are projects that were distributed in April last year in Moscow at the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the participation of the Co-Chairs, and they are now being actively discussed,” Lavrov said, implying that the an eventual settlement of the conflict will be done in a phases—or stage-by-stage—approach.
Lavrov went a step further in his remarks on Tuesday by saying that “assuming at the first stage the solution of the most pressing problems, which are the liberation of a number of areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and the unlocking of transport, economic and other communications.”
“I am convinced that when we come to the decision to sign these documents, it will be the most important step in the implementation of the resolutions of the UN Security Council, which are in question and which, once again, demanded to stop the war and start negotiating,” added Lavrov. “We started to negotiate, we need to agree now. This is what we are achieving as Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.”
Mnatsakanyan said that Lavrov, in his remarks, had made references to myriad documents “including documents which were discussed during the last two years. These approaches came up in 2014 and 2016 and they are unacceptable for the Armenian sides.”
“There have been and will not be concessions. The Armenian sides will never exercise that approach,” added Mnatsakanyan.
“Since 2018, the talks on the Karabakh conflict have been limited to the discussion and assessment of approaches which the sides exercised during specific times. The option of settlement, suggested in 2014, is not on the negotiating table now. We have expressed our position clearly, stating that security is the priority for the Armenian sides,” explained Mnatsakanyan. “We have expressed our stance and our approaches very clearly.”
The Armenian foreign minister also added that the principle of self-determination was a key factor being presented by Armenia during the negotiations.
“Those who think that it is possible to negotiate one thing and present something else to the the public are mistaken. No decision can be made without the people of Artsakh,” emphasized Mnatsakanyan.