YEREVAN, May 6. /TASS/. The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has substantially normalized and Russian peacekeepers are settling minor incidents promptly and effectively, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
"We are observing positive trends in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. The situation on the ground has substantially normalized. The Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed along the engagement line and the Lachin corridor is acting as a guarantor of security," Russia’s top diplomat said at a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Ara Ayvazyan.
"Minor incidents that perhaps can’t be avoided in any operation are being ironed out by our peacekeepers promptly and effectively. They are also paying constant attention to completing a POW swap," he said.
A trilateral working group at the level of deputy prime ministers "is working very actively and smoothly," the Russian foreign minister pointed out.
"We are interested in this work to proceed further and contribute to building a dialogue between Baku and Yerevan to ensure the sustainable development of the South Caucasus," Lavrov stressed.
For his part, Armenia’s top diplomat noted that the sides "had already discussed a couple of issues on settling the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh." "In this context, we stress the importance of cultivating conditions for resuming the peace process under the aegis of the OSCE ‘Troika’ of co-chairs," Ayvazyan said.
"The most important issue is that Azerbaijan should release all prisoners of war and individuals held in custody and this task has to be resolved as soon as possible, which is also evidenced by a lot of information on continued crimes," the Armenian foreign minister added.
Creating conditions for the return of refugees to their homes, providing humanitarian aid to civilians, restoring the economy of Nagorno-Karabakh and unblocking transport links must also be seen as urgent issues, Ayvazyan stressed.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, 2020 with intense battles in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10.
Under the document, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides maintained the positions that they had held, some districts passed over to Baku’s control and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the engagement line and the Lachin corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh. The statement also envisaged an "all-for-all" POW swap.
After the Russian peacekeepers had been deployed to the region, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh stabilized. Tens of thousands of Karabakh residents who had fled their homes during the hostilities returned to the region with the help of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.