The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon after its worst escalation in over two decades, a senior representative of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Wednesday.
Armen Ashotian, an HHK deputy chairman, also made clear that Russia cannot unilaterally impose any peace accords on the conflicting parties without the backing of the two other mediating powers: the United States and France.
“The four-day [in Karabakh] war reaffirmed Russia’s geopolitical influence in the region,” Ashotian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But the fact is that the [OSCE] Minsk Group and especially two of its three co-chairs, France and the United States, would never agree to any variant of the conflict’s settlement what would solely stem from Russia’s vision.”
The remarks came ahead of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visit to the region aimed at bolstering the ceasefire and reviving the protracted search for a compromise solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. Lavrov will arrive in Yerevan on Thursday.
Two leading Russian dailies reported this week that President Vladimir Putin has personally initiated a new Russian push for a Karabakh settlement after Moscow helped to stop heavy fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact” that broke out on April 2. They said Lavrov will press Baku and Yerevan to accept peace proposals based on the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement drafted by the Russian, U.S. and French co-chairs of Minsk Group.
Ashotian, who is in charge of the ruling party’s foreign relations, cautioned against excessive expectations from the Russian mediation, saying that Azerbaijan further complicated a peaceful settlement with its military offensive in Karabakh.
“It’s evident that after the four-day war, it would be untimely to speak of a quick diplomatic solution to the Karabakh problem because a key prerequisite for that is a restoration of trust,” he said. “Even before this four-day war, Azerbaijan always violated the ceasefire and lost our trust. And it will take time to restore that trust, if it ever existed.”
“With the four-day war, Azerbaijan nullified what little diplomatic trust we might have had in it,” Ashotian went on. “Therefore, I don’t think that international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict can reach a successful conclusion in the foreseeable period.”
The Basic Principles, repeatedly modified in the past decade, call for a phased resolution of the conflict that would end in a referendum on Karabakh’s internationally recognized status. Such a vote would be held years after Armenian withdrawal from districts around the disputed territory that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war.
Ashotian stressed that the Armenian side will never compromise on the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination and “international security guarantees” sought by them.
In their public statements, President Ilham Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders have repeatedly rejected any peace accord that would stop short of restoring Azerbaijani control over Karabakh and the surrounding Armenian-controlled districts.