By Rashid Shirinov
Many aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement have already been agreed upon, said Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister.
“Of course, this issue concerns Russia as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and, most importantly, a country in the region. We care about what is happening in our neighborhood,” the foreign minister said in his interview with APA on March 31.
Lavrov further voiced Russia’s interest in the restoration of peace and tranquility in the region, as well as the opening of borders, return of refugees and resumption of trade and economic relations. “That is why the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is among our unconditional foreign policy priorities,” the minister added.
Armenia broke out a lengthy war against Azerbaijan laying territorial claims on its South Caucasus neighbor. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.
Armenia still controls fifth part of Azerbaijan's territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.
While the OSCE Minsk Group acted as the only mediator in resolution of the conflict, it failed to make any move to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process.
Lavrov went on to say that he cannot agree with that no steps were taken to settle the conflict, adding that the Karabakh issue is constantly in focus of attention of international mediators that are regularly making joint and individual efforts aimed at solving the problem.
“As for Russia, for example, at the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, a trilateral summit dedicated to the issue was held in Saint Petersburg. The Nagorno-Karabakh settlement invariably takes an important place in the meetings of Putin with the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders,” Lavrov noted.
He reminded that in particular the issue was discussed during Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Moscow on March 15. Moreover, substantive discussions were held with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian in February and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in early March, Lavrov said.
“The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement is a very delicate subject, therefore the details of the negotiations are confidential,” Lavrov said, refusing to reveal any details.
He also added that many aspects have already been agreed upon. “There are some issues left and they are the most difficult ones. No consensus has been reached yet. Nevertheless, the work is underway,” Lavrov noted.
Russia along with the U.S. and France is a co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group established to broker a peace to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia is considered a key party in brokering a lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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