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YEREVAN, April 22. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will discuss with the Armenian leadership in Yerevan on Friday the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement and bilateral relations.
Lavrov will have talks with President Serzh Sargsyan and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. His itinerary also includes the laying of flowers at the Eternal Flames at Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex.
Lavrov and Nalbandian are expected to consider a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues. Special attention will be given to peace settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh in the wake of a recent surge of tensions in the zone of conflict.
Officials in Moscow said this problem was destined to loom large at the negotiations.
Russia has exerted major efforts for a ceasefire and settlement of the situation, normalization around Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow has mediated a meeting of the General Staff Chiefs of Azerbaijan and Armenia that reached an agreement on the cessation of hostilities at the contact line. Since then the sides have been reporting periodic brief shootouts.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Sergey Lavrov will present certain settlement groundwork. "I think it would be wrong to say that it’s a plan, a program, a project, a document. It’s certain groundwork, the discussion of various ideas within the settlement framework," Zakharova said.
Moscow calls on the conflict sides to display restraint and exert efforts for the restoration of stability. "The sides should resume the negotiating process that would be aimed at attaining a stable peace settlement," the diplomat said. "It is necessary to intensify the work for mitigating risks based on the existing agreements."
The Russian foreign minister said it was important to take measures to prevent such outbreaks of violence. "It is very risky when people look through the barrel sight and see each other every hour, every minute on the other side of the contact line - some people just snap," Lavrov said in Baku on April 7. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the intensification of the political settlement efforts, he said.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia and Armenia are tied by allied partnership relations the principles of which are fixed in the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of August 29, 1997 and the September 26, 2000 Declaration on allied cooperation.
The sides maintain an intensive political dialogue at the high and top levels. "In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in commemorative events in Yerevan on April 24 over the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On May 9, Serzh Sargsyan attended the Victory Parade in Moscow and on July 9-10 Sargsyan attended in Ufa an informal meeting of the SCO and BRICS leaders with the participation of the heads of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) states," the Foreign Ministry said. "On September 5-7, 2015 and on March 10-11 2016, Serzh Sargsyan paid working visits to Moscow. The two heads of state meet regularly on the sidelines of various international forums, including in the EAEU, CSTO and CIS formats."
The two states’ approaches to the main international and regional agenda problems are close or coincide, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Lavrov and Nalbandian met in Moscow on April 8 on the sidelines of a meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers, and before that - on March 10, they signed a plan of consultations between the foreign ministries for 2016-2017.
"Armenia's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union helped to bring the bilateral partnership to a qualitatively new level," the ministry said. "The obvious advantages of Armenia's participation in the EAEU can be seen now. The GDP growth is observed (by 3% in 2015), revenues from import customs duties have increased by 23.6%, three investment credits through the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development worth a total of $316 million have been approved.
Moscow notes the productive work of the intergovernmental commissions on economic cooperation and in the military-technical cooperation sphere. The sides conduct preparations for a regular meeting of the intergovernmental economic cooperation commission due to be held in St. Petersburg on July 14-15, 2016.
In addition, a long-term economic cooperation program until 2020 is being implemented. During Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s official visit to Yerevan on April 7 the sides agreed to cut prices for Russian natural gas supplied to Armenia.
Last year, the bilateral trade volume remained almost unchanged and amounted to more than $1.24 billion. Accumulated Russian investment in the Armenian economy reached $4.1 billion (about 40% of all foreign investment).
The main spheres for the investment are the energy, transport, banking, telecommunications, mining and metallurgical sectors.