As Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan were meeting in Brussels at the initiative of the European Council President, Moscow called the European Union’s efforts to mediate Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization “fake initiatives.”
“The EU’s activeness in the South Caucasus is determined by geopolitical ambitions. In our opinion, it has no link with the real desire to contribute to improving the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“These are the fake initiatives by the Europeans who are more interested in usurping the mantle of the mediation, with nothing underneath,” asserted Zakharova. “We, as mediators, are working, and this work is bringing concrete results and getting respective assessment by the sides. Those who present themselves as mediators, but not being so, are just incapable of offering something.”
Russia, together with Yerevan and Baku, is focused on implementing all the provisions of the trilateral agreements reached at a high level, Zakharova said.
She added that the work within the agreed trilateral formats is of substantive a nature. In this context Zakharova addressed the meetings of the working group on border delimitation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which Russia is providing a consulting support. The commission, headed by the deputy prime ministers of the three countries, met on Tuesday in Moscow.
Pashinyan and Aliyev emerged from their meeting in Brussels on Wednesday having agreed to hold the next meeting of the commission overseeing the border delimitation in November in Brussels. They also tasked their respective foreign ministers to continue “objective” discussion on formulating a peace treaty between their countries.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday hailed the progress the border commission was making.
“The trilateral group with participation of the deputy prime ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is dealing with unblocking transit connection in the South Caucasus. It is working in tandem with the commission on border delimitation. The latest contacts were held very recently. The parties have significantly progressed in reaching agreements,” Lavrov said Wednesday during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“This work is conducted not in vacuum or isolation but it is very closely related with broader transport projects, including the North-South [highway], in which our Iranian partners are also interested,” Lavrov said.
Regarding the global and regional significance of the projects, Lavrov said that logistic hubs could be built which “would be independent from countries that are displaying inappropriate attitude to the interests of their partners in the region,” seemingly echoing Zakharova’s scoff at Europe.
The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson also touched on recent remarks make by Turkey’s deputy trade minister Riza Tuna Turagay, who insisted that the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” would open soon, based on an agreement with Russia.
“I have no information about the contacts between the Turkish ministry of trade and the Russian partners. I can only say that Russia continues the substantive work with Baku and Yerevan aimed at unblocking the transportation ties in South Caucasus, and the work implies a package solution on concrete routes. They should be based on the principles of sovereignty and respect of Armenia and Azerbaijan and should contribute to the security and economic welfare of the region,” Zakharova said.