Lavrov said that Russia is not even close to thinking about including Karabakh in its composition

18 January

The issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be resolved between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia is ready to help in finding a solution that will contribute to ensuring peace and stability in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told at a press conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2020.

"About the exotic proposal to include Nagorno-Karabakh in the Russian Federation. You know, as I understand it, the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh is not recognized by anyone, including the Republic of Armenia. We have no such thoughts even close. We believe that all issues in this region should be resolved between the countries located here, first of all between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We will be ready to help search for and find a solution that will ensure peace, stability and security in this region," the Russian Foreign Minister said.

The implementation of the agreements

The agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh, recorded in the joint statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9 last year, are being implemented quite effectively, the Russian Foreign Minister said.

He added that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh was deliberately not mentioned in the joint statement of the three leaders. "The territory where Russian peacekeepers are deployed is the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. This is what we proceed from in our contacts with Yerevan and Baku. Now we are working out such nuances, I would say details related to the organization of transport links, the supply of the zone of responsibility of peacekeepers, the provision of humanitarian assistance to people who have returned there. Already 50 thousand Armenians have returned there from Armenia, " he explained.

The issue of the status of the region, the Minister stressed, "will also be dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs." "They have now resumed their contacts with the parties, they are going to go to the region again," he added.

"Precisely because the problem of the status of Nagorno - Karabakh is so contradictory, if we take the positions of Yerevan and Baku, and it was decided by the three leaders to bypass this issue and leave it for later, for the future," Lavrov said.

The Minister also said that there are no secret appendices to the trilateral statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"The agreement [of] November 9, I believe, is being implemented quite effectively, this is the assessment of both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. With the exception of the issue of prisoners of war, which was suspended for the above-mentioned reasons, which, I repeat, in its current version arose in early December - a month after the signing of the agreements. Everything else there, in my opinion, is being done quite effectively, the issue of the mandate of peacekeepers is being resolved. It should, of course, be the subject of a trilateral agreement, this was discussed in Moscow at the meeting on January 11. There are no secret applications, and I do not see what topics can be the subject of some secrets," the Russian Foreign Minister said.

The question of the status

The diplomat added that the discussion of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be possible in the future, and this topic has yet to be returned, but at the moment it would be premature.

"I really hope that now emotions will be relegated to the background. By the way, this is exactly why now is not the best time to put forward the issue of the status of Nagorno - Karabakh as a priority, it remains for the future," he said.

"And we will have to return to the status. The main thing is that there should be concrete, calm legal discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the status of the future, based on the good - neighborliness that we all need to restore in the region," Lavrov concluded.

Connection between Armenia and Karabakh

Lavrov said that he sees no reason to hinder the contacts of Armenian officials with Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Minister noted that in addition to the agreement on the Lachin corridor, which will have a new route, "a reliable, permanent connection will be laid between the western regions of the main territory of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, and this is an agreement established by the heads of state."

"If we agree, and everyone agrees, that there should be a connection between the Armenians of Karabakh and the Armenians of Armenia, then I see no reason why we should prevent contacts at this level," the Russian Foreign Minister said.

He recalled that "Armenian officials are involved in providing humanitarian assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh, which does not cause any negative emotions in Baku, and it would be strange if it were otherwise." At the same time, according to Lavrov, "the fact that these Armenian officials make rather politicized statements in Karabakh probably causes tension."

"I think it would be better to avoid this. We have already witnessed how emotional statements made from Karabakh or about Karabakh, how the word becomes a material force, in this case, words from different sides have become a very negative material force, " the minister explained. He added that Moscow is now paying special attention to " establishing contacts between the leadership of Azerbaijan and Armenia, creating an atmosphere of trust."

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed that the question of cutting off Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia has never arisen. He recalled that the agreements between Moscow, Baku and Yerevan contain the consent of the parties to ensure communication between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin corridor, which will be under the control of Russian peacekeepers. "No one has ever denied Armenia's connection with Karabakh, and during all the decades of negotiations, the question of cutting off Armenia and Karabakh from each other has never been raised. And that is why the Lachin corridor as a concept has not been rejected by anyone, and it is still subject to the consent of the parties, including the consent of our Azerbaijani neighbors," Lavrov said.

Presence of Russian peacekeepers and the exchange of prisoners

Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh will ensure the interests of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, Lavrov said.

"I guarantee you absolutely that the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers is a form that will ensure the interests of both the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides," Lavrov said.

The Minister also added that Russia is seeking an exchange of prisoners of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the principle of "all for all", the Russian military together with colleagues from these countries are checking the lists of detainees in the Hadrut region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"About prisoners of war. This was really discussed, it is part of the agreements that were signed on the night of November 9-10. And also when the President of Azerbaijan [Ilham Aliyev] and the Prime Minister of Armenia [Nikol Pashinyan] arrived in Moscow on January 11 [2021]. These people, who were abandoned in this [Hadrout] area after the ceasefire was declared and all the fighting took place, should be treated separately, and not as falling under November 9. Nevertheless, we, both President Putin and I, are in contact with our colleagues, still promote the need to consider this issue (exchange of prisoners of war - ed. TASS), to close it, guided by the principle of "all for all", he said. According to Lavrov, "now our military [are] in contact with the military of Armenia, with the military of Azerbaijan, these lists are already verified by name to understand where these people may be."


GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry

Based on materials from TASS