Russia is not trying to force Armenia or Azerbaijan to accept a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, President Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday.
“I want to emphasize that we are not trying to impose any prepared solutions on Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan,” Putin told the official Azerbaijani news agency AzerTag in an interview. “The parties should agree and find mutually acceptable solutions on their own, without external pressure.”
“The ultimate goal of the settlement must be an agreement that would not make either side a winner or a loser and would involve mutual concessions beneficial for both sides and clear to public opinion in both Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he said.
In Putin’s words, a viable compromise on Karabakh should be based on an “optimal balance” between the internationally recognized principles of territorial integrity of states and peoples’ right to self-determination.
Peace proposals jointly made by Russia, the United States and France over the past decade call for such a compromise. They envisage Armenian withdrawal from districts around Karabakh in return for a future referendum on the disputed territory’s status.
Putin spoke to AzerTag ahead of his visit to Baku where he will meet on Monday with Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Hassan Rouhani of Iran. He is scheduled to receive Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Moscow on Wednesday. The talks are widely expected to focus on the Karabakh conflict.
Russia took the lead in international efforts to revive the Karabakh peace process after halting four-day bloody hostilities around Karabakh that broke out in early April. Putin hosted face-to-face talks between Aliyev and Sarkisian in Saint Petersburg on June 20, fueling media speculation that he is pressing the two sides hard to iron out their differences.
The Russian president also insisted that Moscow is not keen to “monopolize” the conflict’s mediation despite its “decisive” role in the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreed in April. He said it is continuing to coordinate its efforts with the U.S. and France, the two other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
In early July, Putin telephoned U.S. President Barack Obama to brief him on the results of the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Saint Petersburg.