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Russia doesn't blame Turkey for tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh — Lavrov

April 04, 2016, 13:27 UTC+3

However, the Russian side notes attempts to frustrate efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on Nagorno-Karabakh

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© Artiom Korotaev/TASS

MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. Russia is not accusing external forces, including Ankara, of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

"We are not accusing any external forces and any external players of provoking the current outbreak of tensions (in Nagorno-Karabakh)," Lavrov said. "Nor do we accuse Ankara."

"Of course, we have heard the [relevant] statements of the Turkish leadership, which are one-sided," he went on to say. "However, in general, now it is important for our Turkish neighbors to set a course for stopping interference in the affairs of any countries, be it Iraq or be it Syria." "There is plenty of evidence that Turkey, in spite of all appeals, pushes ahead with such interference and continues to support terrorism," the Russian minister said.

"I don’t venture to judge what role Ankara played or did not play or continues to play with regard to Nagorno-Karabakh," Lavrov said. "However, it would be appropriate for everyone, including Turkey and the Turkish people, to make sure that Ankara focuses on stopping the support of terrorism. I think that’s the idea I can safely express, and we will act in favor of this."

According to the minister, the Russian side notes attempts to frustrate efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on Nagorno-Karabakh.

"We should focus on the role of the co-chairs as a major mechanism to be rendered all-round support," he said.

He drew parallel with the Syrian settlement involving the International Syria Support Group (ISSG). "The Group is credited for agreeing principles of the soonest resolution of ceasefire problems, settlement of humanitarian issues, launch of the political process. But concrete implementation of these principles is a job for task forces co-chaired by Russia and the United States rather than for all these more than twenty countries or the United Nations Security Council," Lavrov noted.

"It would be right to use this logic and not to frustrate the role of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, not to seek erode this role and the results the co-chairs have reached in contacts with the parties in the past ten years and which have great significance," he said. "Any ideas to move these efforts beyond the Russian-US-French co-chairmanship will probably be used by those seeking if not frustrate the process but serious hamper it. And I am sure there are such sides."

"We can say that there are attempts from those who are dissatisfied with the basic approaches to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. The approaches that have been committed to paper in numerous documents signed by Russia, France and the United States, including the documents that envisage purely peaceful, political settlement of the Karabakh conflict, which cannot be resolved by military means, on the principles of the OSCE Helsinki Final Act," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

Lavrov has also stressed that there can be no military solution to the conflict and called on Baku and Yerevan to heed the calls for peace.

"Out stance was explained by the president, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry," he said. "Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and yours truly have contacted our counterparts. We expressed the most serious concern and confirmed the president’s message to the effect it is essential to terminate violations of the ceasefire regimen as soon as possible, without delay, and to avoid creating hindrances to the resumption of efforts to make transition to a peace settlement. We hope that these messages have been heard."

"At least the two sides have declared that the necessary orders had been issued. There’ve been some reports today that excesses have not subsided yet," Lavrov said. "We keep in touch with Baku and Yerevan to ensure the signals from Moscow, Washington and Paris should be heard at last."

On Saturday, April 2, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh rapidly deteriorated when the parties to the Karabakh conflict accused each other of violating truce along the front line. The claims came from defense authorities of Armenia and of Azerbaijan.

Neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan fell out with each other in the late 1980s because of Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians.

In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.

Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh have been held on the basis of the so-called Madrid Principles suggested by co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Russia, France and the United States in December 2007 in the Spanish capital. They include three key principles written in the Helsinki Final Act: refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination.

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