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No agreements can be reached without Nagorno-Karabakh’s consent, says Lavrov

Moscow will be able to act as a guarantor of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, the Russian foreign minister stated
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan Vitaly Belousov/POOL/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan
© Vitaly Belousov/POOL/TASS

YEREVAN, November 11. /TASS/. It is impossible to reach any agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh without the consent of the population of that region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday following talks with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

When asked about Russia’s attitude towards the proposal to return Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiating table as a full-fledged participant in the settlement process, the minister said it was up to the parties themselves "to coordinate and determine the composition of the participants in the negotiations." "At an early stage of consultations and subsequent negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, when hostilities stopped, Nagorno-Karabakh was a party to the relevant agreements and talks, which began after the cessation of hostilities. At some point, the Armenian leadership, one of the previous presidents, made the decision that Yerevan would represent the interests of Nagorno-Karabakh," he explained.

"As members of the group of co-chairs, while promoting that process, we can only seek to ensure that it proceeds in line with the general consent. It is clear to everyone that it will be impossible to finalize any agreements without the consent of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia will just not support them," he stressed.

According to Russia’s top diplomat, at today’s meeting, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan mentioned his public statement, which said that "the final agreements should take into account the interests of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan." "It is hard to argue with that," the minister concluded.

As for the parties to the conflict, they should be ready for a compromise, which should reflect a real and fair balance of interests, Russia's top diplomat told a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan on Monday.

"The principles of territorial integrity, self-determination and exclusively peaceful settlement of disputes are enshrined in all documents that are discussed by the sides. In any case, a final solution should take into account all these principles, and neither Yerevan nor Baku argues against this. Any treaty, moreover on this challenging issue, is a compromise," Lavrov said.

"As co-chairs [of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh], we try to make sure that this compromise is fair and reflects a real and fair balance of interests," the foreign minister said.

Russia as mediator

Moscow will continue active mediation efforts on various platforms in order to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the Russian foreign minister stated. "Russia is ready to continue active mediation efforts as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group and a participant in talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan," he pointed out.

The Russian top diplomat highlighted "the importance of facilitating talks between the parties [to the conflict] and the need to take steps to ease tensions in the conflict zone based on the existing agreements, including those signed at the April meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group," Lavrov added.

"We believe that it is important to continue implementing the measures agreed by the ministers, which were discussed at a meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier in the year," the Russian foreign minister noted.

Russia as guarantor

Russia will be prepared to cooperate with other countries in the OSCE Minsk Group to be a guarantor of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, Sergey Lavrov told an audience of graduates of the Diplomatic Academy and university students in Yerevan.

"We are sincerely interested in the establishment of peace, in putting an end to the loss of human life, in opening borders and in resuming economic ties," Lavrov said. "Alongside the efforts being taken to ease military risks and promote likely cooperation in the humanitarian sphere Russia is conducting persistent work to coordinate political settlement principles. We carry out our mediatory mission without trying to impose any ready-made solutions on the parties concerned."

He said Armenia and Azerbaijan "should come to terms on their own, without external pressure, without any artificial deadlines or arbitration."

"This is a firm position of ours," Lavrov said. "We will be prepared to support any solution that will suit all parties concerned. If an agreement is concluded, we shall be geared to act in concert with the other participants in the OSCE Minsk Group as a guarantor of the settlement."

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan’s territory. It is a self-proclaimed independent republic, not recognized by any of the United Nations member states.

In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the Baku government and Armenian residents. In 1994, a ceasefire was reached but relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have remained strained ever since.

Azerbaijan insists that its territorial integrity be restored and refugees return to Nagorno-Karabakh, which will create conditions for talks on the region’s status. Baku is ready to grant autonomy to the region but is unwilling to hold direct talks with Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Armenia strongly opposes the region’s reunification with Azerbaijan and says that its right to self-determination should be considered.

Russia, France and the United States co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which seeks to broker an end to the conflict. The Group also includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, as well as Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Turkey.