Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has paid a brief visit to Armenia as part of his shuttle diplomacy mission to present the Kremlin’s vision of a Karabakh settlement to the conflicting sides, including Azerbaijan.
On Friday morning, in Yerevan, Lavrov met with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to convey Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s message on the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.
During the meeting the Armenian leader, according to his press service, highly appreciated the efforts of the presidents of Russia, the United States and France, the conflict mediating powers, towards finding a solution to the Karabakh conflict and establishing peace and stability in the region.
He reportedly reiterated Armenia’s interest in making progress in the settlement process as early as possible and said that the Armenian side will “attentively study” Medvedev’s proposals and provide its answer in the near future.
“We want this problem to be solved and solved in a way that will, indeed, bring ultimate peace and stability to our region,” Sarkisian was quoted as underscoring during the meeting.
Lavrov, meanwhile, reiterated President Medvedev’s ‘sincere interest’ in the successful outcome of the process, stressing his opinion that “all conditions exist for the parties to reach agreement.”
“Now we are waiting for the answer,” Lavrov said at a news briefing following his meeting with the Armenian president.
He said he was going to convey a similar message to the leadership of Azerbaijan.
According to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, later on Friday Russia’s top diplomat also visited Azerbaijan’s capital Baku where he conveyed the same message to President Ilham Aliyev. He is reported to have said in Baku he hoped the Azerbaijani leader would respond to the proposals after examining them.
Two days before coming to Yerevan and Baku Lavrov held discussions about the peace process with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in Moscow. Then after their meeting the Russian minister said the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks around the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute had reached the ‘final stage’ and that the outcome of the latest summit talks in the Russian city of Kazan had created “prerequisites for agreement around the basic principles.”
“It’s time for making decisions,” Lavrov stressed at his joint press conference with Nalbandian on July 6.
Speaking to media in Yerevan on Friday Nalbandian said a breakthrough was possible to achieve in the process if Azerbaijan withdrew its amendments advanced at the latest round of talks.
Following Medvedev-hosted negotiations in the Russian city of Kazan on June 24 Armenia blamed Azerbaijan for the failure to reach agreement around the basic principles of Karabakh settlement, saying that President Aliyev had presented “a dozen changes” which were unacceptable for the Armenian side.
Remarkably, on the eve of Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan, Armenian President Sarkisian and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the Karabakh peace process on the phone. The Armenian president’s press service revealed no details of their conversation.
Earlier, Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “redouble their efforts to find an agreement before the end of this year.”
Nagorno-Karabakh broke free of Azerbaijan’s control in the early 1990s after a war that killed an estimated 30,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Hostilities ended after a Russia-mediated truce in 1994. Since then Russia as well as the United States and France, as the co-chair states of the OSCE Minsk Group, have spearheaded the international mediatory efforts to find a solution to the protracted dispute.