The Russian foreign minister’s upcoming Karabakh-related discussions in Yerevan and Baku will be “within the format” of the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s Minsk Group co-chairmanship, a senior Armenian official said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters following a government session, Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian acknowledged some recent activity in the Karabakh talks that included the announcement earlier this week that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will tour the region early next week and his meetings in the Armenian and Azerbaijani capitals will also focus on the Karabakh conflict settlement.
When asked by reporters whether Lavrov’s planned trips mean that he will bring with him some fresh Russian settlement proposals, Kocharian said: “The Russian foreign minister is not acting separately. He is acting within the format of the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairmanship. In this sense, it is a bit strange when constant attempts are being made to separate [Lavrov’s activities]. Moreover, he [Lavrov] himself publicly denied it on several occasions.”
This week has brought some diplomatic activity to the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement as regional issues were, in particular, discussed at the November 13 meeting in Sochi between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The following day, on November 14, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met in Moscow with the Russian, American and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. And on Wednesday Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian held a meeting with Putin. The Armenian president’s press office said the parties also addressed the Karabakh issue during their meeting, but gave no details. Finally, an upcoming visit of Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to the region was announced.
“You know, on the one hand, the visits that you mention are scheduled ones… The same is true about Lavrov’s visit, which is connected with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. On the other hand, it is obvious that there is certain activity on the part of the co-chairs connected with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said. “It is natural that during such meetings foreign ministers are always free to discuss issues that are important.”
According to Russian state-run TASS news agency, Lavrov said on Tuesday that during his meetings in Yerevan and Baku “we will try to understand at what stage our efforts on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement are after the meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva.”
During their talks in the Swiss city on October 16, Armenian President Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev pledged to intensify the peace process and bolster the cease-fire regime in the region’s conflict zone.
In a statement issued today on the results of their November 14 and November 16 meetings with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov, of Russia, Stephane Visconti, of France, and Andrew Schofer, of the United States, said that Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov have agreed to hold a meeting on the sidelines of an OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Vienna, Austria, in December.