More than one month after meeting with Armenian lawmakers in Yerevan, a Russian parliamentary delegation has still not approved a draft joint statement that reportedly blames Azerbaijan for the recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The defense and national security committees of the Russian State Duma and Armenia’s National Assembly held a regular joint session in mid-April shortly heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces deployed around Karabakh. They had planned to present the results of the meeting in that statement.
Aleksandr Chekalin, the deputy chairman of the Duma committee, said at the time that the document was not immediately adopted for purely procedural reasons. The Russian delegation needs to secure its approval by other Duma panels, he said.
Koryun Nahapetian, who heads the Armenian parliamentary committee on defense and security, confirmed on Wednesday that the Russians have still not approved the text. He said the Armenian side is concerned about the delay but still hopes that it will be officially released.
Two other members of Nahapetian’s committee said that the unpublicized draft statement explicitly held Azerbaijan responsible for the April 2 outbreak of heavy fighting in the Karabakh conflict zone. Russian government officials and senior lawmakers have avoided blaming Baku in their public statements.
“This is a very clear indication that the Russian side had a problem with some wordings and took a diplomatic stance,” said Khachatur Kokobelian, a pro-Western opposition parliamentarian. “I consider this approach of the Russian Duma committee inappropriate,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“It’s not going to be adopted,” predicted Edmon Marukian, another lawmaker. “It’s clear that when they got back [to Moscow] they decided not to adopt it.”
The joint session of the Armenian and Russian parliamentary panels was reportedly tense, with Armenian deputies criticizing Moscow for selling large amounts of offensive weapons to Baku in recent years.