Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has criticized Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian for describing Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Armenia, saying that such statements hamper efforts to end the Karabakh conflict.
Lavrov commented on the conflict when he spoke during an annual international forum held in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday.
“As regards the situation on the ground, it is much calmer now than it was one year ago,” he said. “But the political process is on hold and we have not yet managed to kick-start it.”
“The parties are making quite serious statements,” he went on. “In particular, there has been a statement to the effect that Karabakh is Armenia, just like Albanian Prime Minister [Edi] Rama said from Tirana than Kosovo is Albania. This certainly does not help to create an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of the political [settlement] process.”
Lavrov added that the Russian, U.S. and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group will continue press for the conflict’s resolution. “This is one of the few situations where we have the same vision,” he said.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed the criticism on Thursday. “We find it important that each of the mediators avoids selective or one-sided evaluations,” said the ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalian. She argued that Pashinian reaffirmed Armenia’s readiness for a compromise peace deal with Azerbaijan when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York late last month.
“Artsakh [Karabakh] is Armenia. Period,” Pashinian declared at a rally held in Stepanakert on August 5. Azerbaijan condemned that statement as provocative.
Lavrov spoke one day before Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the Valdai Forum in Sochi. Neither president mentioned the Karabakh conflict in his opening remarks at the talks publicized by the Kremlin.
“For us, Russia is a very important partner, friend and good neighbor,” Aliyev told Putin. “We very much value this relationship.”
Putin met with Pashinian on Tuesday on the sidelines of a Eurasian Economic Union summit held in Yerevan. Few details of their conversations were made public.