MOSCOW—Russia will respect Artsakh’s return to the Karabakh peace talks if Yerevan and Baku reach a mutual agreement, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint press conference Thursday with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan who arrived in Moscow Wednesday.
A day after being elected Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan told a press conference in Stepanakert on May 9, that the Karabakh conflict could not be resolved with the direct participation of Artsakh’s authorities in the negotiations, adding that the Artsakh authorities have the right to speak on behalf of their people. Pashinyan reiterated this position on Thursday when presenting his government’s program to Armenia’s National Assembly, which approved it by a vote of 62 to 35.
“If official Yerevan and Baku agree at some stage that Nagorno-Karabakh should again be involved in the talks, we will respect this decision. As for the Minsk Group, its work has been going on for many years. Representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh used to participate in this process, but then, the parties agreed to change the format of the talks,” added Lavrov.
At the same time, the Russian foreign minister stated that the Russian position on this issue has remained unchanged.
“It has always been our position that the Karabakh issue should be resolved through the OSCE Minsk Group. We are convinced that this is the best possible format,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia, as one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group together with the French and Americans, is pursuing a common, consistent, non-contradictory line on creating conditions that would allow Baku and Yerevan to forge an optimal peace formula.
Mnatsakanyan told the press conference that Armenia attaches importance to the status and security of the people of Artsakh in the Karabakh conflict resolution process.
“Special attention was paid to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. We highly appreciate Russia’s contribution with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs aimed at resolving the conflict exclusively through peaceful means. We are ready to continue the joint efforts directed for the progress of the negotiation process. At this stage we will work to continue this process,” said Mnatsakanyan stressing that the talks are aimed at resolving these issues.
Ahead of his meeting with Lavrov, Mnastakanyan told Azatutyun.am’s Armenian service in an interview last weekend that Artsakh has a decisive role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peace talks and conflict resolution process.
Mnatsakanyan pointed out that the peace process has quite a long history, with one clear reality being the fact that Nagorno Karabkah has a decisive voice in the peaceful conflict resolution process.
“I think it’s nothing new that Nagorno Karabakh has that decisive voice since eventually that conflict by the formulation of the Co-Chairs is called Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Nagorno Karabakh, let’s say it cautiously, is a unit with its territory, population, structures, public administration system is impossible to ignore. From the very start its decisive voice has clearly existed in the entire process. And Nagorno Karabakh has been in different stages of the conflict. It has signed the ceasefire agreement,” explained Mnatsakanyan.