Russia has never brought the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement to just returning seven districts of the region to Azerbaijan, forgetting the issue of its status. This was said in a comment issued on Wednesday by Russian co-chair in the OSCE Minsk Group, Russian Foreign Ministry Ambassador at Large Igor Popov, in connection with an article by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan titled "The Origins of the 44-Day War".
"Claiming that Russia offered to return seven districts "for nothing," to forget about the status and calm down, is not true," the diplomat said.
According to Popov, the Russian proposals in the article most likely meant the step-by-step settlement plan, the last version of which was handed over to the parties in June 2019. "This plan, which largely coincides with the Kazan document, is based on the basic principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, including the return of five districts to Azerbaijan in the first stage and two in the second, and - I stress this especially - in conjunction with the determination of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh," he explained.
The diplomat also said that among other elements reflecting Armenia's interests in the first phase were the recognition of the rights of Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure the full organization of the population's living activities, the participation of representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh in the OSCE meetings, the lifting of the blockade, the opening of borders and the parties' undertaking not to use force.
Commenting on the issue of the territories' status, Popov drew attention to the fact that in recent years there have been proposals on the negotiating table to determine the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh "by holding a popular vote under the auspices of the United Nations or the OSCE, which expresses the free will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and is legally binding in accordance with the norms and principles of international law". At the same time, according to the diplomat, the wording of the issue or issues put to vote will not be limited in any way, and any result of the vote will be respected by the parties.
"By the way, the width and status of the Lachin corridor were also proposed to be considered only at the second stage, taking into account the return to Azerbaijan of the Kelbajar and Lachin regions," he added. Popov also pointed out that neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani sides rejected these proposals, although a full agreement could not be reached, negotiations continued on a regular basis until 2018, when Yerevan put forward new approaches.
GSV "Russia - Islamic World"
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Based on materials from TASS