Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday in Yerevan that the mechanism that will be introduced for the opening of transit routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are based on the absolute sovereignty of the territory of Armenia.
“As you know, the railway route has been agreed upon, now the agreement on the automobile route is being completed, as well as an agreement over the mechanism that will be instituted is being completed. It will be based absolutely on the sovereignty of the territory of Armenia. There could not be any ambiguity here,” Lavrov said, speaking at a joint press conference with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.
Lavrov is in Armenia to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of Collective Security Treaty Organization, know as the CSTO. Ahead of that meeting on Friday, Lavrov met with Mirzoyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Vahagn Khachatryan. The top Russian diplomat also visited the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex.
During the joint press conference, Lavrov said that a final agreement on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan will be forthcoming, adding that Yerevan and Moscow have similar approaches to the issue.
“In my view, we have a common perception that the process moves forward. Perhaps, it would be desirable for the process to be faster, nevertheless, it is moving forward with substantive, positive, albeit still intermediate results being achieved,” said Lavrov.
“But there is no doubt that there will also be final agreements. We try to contribute to it in every way. Of course, the sides have their own visions, which do not always correspond to one another, especially on how to proceed in the upcoming stage. In any case our partners and us agree that the three agreements are very simple roadmaps that should guide us all,” added Lavrov.
Lavrov said the activities of the Armenia-Russia-Azerbaijan deputy prime ministerial working group dealing with the unblocking of transportation and economic communications in the region have also greatly moved forward. He also added that the commission tasked with addressing the opening of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border will meet in Moscow in the near future.
“Therefore, I am sure that there is no other way than the complete normalization of the relations,” Lavrov said.
The Russian leader also praised efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey, saying that this process will greatly enhance stability in the region.
“In this context, in our common opinion, it is necessary to ensure the dynamic work of the ‘3 + 3’ regional platform with the participation of the three countries of the South Caucasus and their three neighbors. This is an important additional channel for the formation of dialogue and development of multilateral cooperation between the countries of the region and their neighbors,” Lavrov added.
While welcoming official Ankara’s statements about normalizing relations with Armenia, that include establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border, Mirzoyan, in his turn, voiced concern that Turkish authorities’ attempt to correlate the Turkey-Armenia and Armenia-Azerbaijan issues were not constructive.
“We are seeing differences in approaches in the sense that Turkey constantly announces that this normalization process must take place without any precondition, but we regularly see connection between the Armenia-Turkey normalization process and the Armenia-Azerbaijan processes. A connection that the representatives of Turkey’s leadership are trying to find or highlight on every occasion,” said Mirzoyan. “We do not think that this is constructive.”
Mirzoyan also said that there are also difference in approach as Yerevan has a more nuanced approach toward the pace of the talks. Nevertheless, he said, Armenia welcomes sentiments by Turkey about opening the border with Armenia.