Official Yerevan said on Monday that it is not worried about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remark that Turkey can play a “positive role” in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Russia still believes that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations should not be contingent on a resolution of the Karabakh conflict sought by Azerbaijan.
Visiting Yerevan on Friday, Lavrov said Moscow continues to stand for an unconditional implementation of the 2009 Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements. “But we have a sense that progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement will be key to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations,” the TASS news agency quoted him as telling Russian reporters.
Lavrov also said that Turkey could play a “positive role” in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process by “unblocking Nagorno-Karabakh” and “ensuring normal economic contacts in the region.” He did not elaborate.
Commenting on Lavrov’s statement, Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: “Russia’s position, for years voiced at the highest level, has been in tune with our position that Turkish-Armenian relations must be normalized without any preconditions.”
Asked by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) whether Lavrov’s remarks herald a change in Moscow’s stance, Balayan said: “I don’t think it has changed.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian also seemed unfazed by those remarks. “Given its overtly once-sided position, Turkey has no place in and must be kept away from the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process,” Kocharian told News.am over the weekend. “The only positive impact which Ankara could have on the conflict’s resolution is to open its border with Armenia and stop encouraging Azerbaijan’s provocative and unconstructive actions,” he said.
Lavrov was among foreign dignitaries who attended the signing of the 2009 Turkish-Armenian protocols in Zurich. The Turkish government subsequently made parliamentary ratification of those protocols conditional on decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. Yerevan rejects this precondition.