MOSCOW—The issue of returning representatives of Artsakh to the Karabakh conflict resolution negotiations must be decided by the sides to the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint press conference with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger on Friday.
“We’ve already commented on [Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister] Nikol Pashinyan’s statements about involving Nagorno Karabakh [Artsakh] as a party to negotiations. This is the kind of issue that should be decided by the conflicting countries. There was a time when representatives of Nagorno Karabakh participated in the negotiations, but the format has changed and for many years now the negotiations are held only by Armenia and Azerbaijan. Certainly we proceed from the positions that Armenia is taking into account the approaches of Nagorno Karabakh in the negotiations process. Changing the negotiations format requires the consent of both sides, which at this moment doesn’t exist,” Lavrov said.
He noted that the conflict resolution process is being mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, who are currently in the region for meetings with the leadership of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Lavrov attached importance to this kind of contacts in terms of resolving the conflict.
Lavrov also mentioned an agreement reached between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to create communications mechanisms between the two leaders.
“As far as I know during the Dushanbe meeting the Armenian prime minister and Azerbaijani president reached an agreement that dialogue must be continued and that the foreign ministers must meet. The sides noted that Armenia and Azerbaijan are ready to work with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. We can only welcome these decisions. As long as the [fervent] political processes, which we are following, in Armenia haven’t ended, it’s hardly going to be possible to discuss clear options for coming out of the crisis,” said Lavrov.
Speaking about the Karabakh conflict resolution process, the OSCE Secretary General also addressed the Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting in Tajikistan, calling it “productive”. He expressed hope that the meeting will contribute to restoring trust.
“During the upcoming ministerial council in Milan in December we will express our support to the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and we will call on the conflicting sides to find political will for the settlement of the issue. It is important for the sides to work in a constructive atmosphere, to avoid provocative rhetoric, which will allow to de-escalate the tension in the line of contact. This kind of an atmosphere is extremely necessary in order for the sides to go for difficult compromise, which are required for long-lasting and comprehensive peace,” Greminger said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Minsk Group Co-chair Igor Popov, who just returned from a tour of the region, told reporters Friday that Yervan and Baku have expressed desire to continue the dialogue on the Karabakh conflict resolution issue.
“We are hopeful that a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries will take place next month, during which the key issues of settlement will be discussed, as well as the measures on strengthening of trust that can be adopted – taking into account the situation, taking into account how the relations between the leaders of the two countries will be built. From a principal point of view we have understood that a desire to continue high level dialogue exists,” said Popov.