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Armenia, Azerbaijan Trade Blame Over Stalled Talks


RUSSIA -- Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian (right) and Azerbaijani Foregn Minister Jeyhun Bayramov (left) meet with their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, October 9, 2020

Authorities in Yerevan and Baku have accused each other of torpedoing negotiations aimed at finding ways of ending hostilities and de-escalating the current crisis in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

In an interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti on Thursday Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian claimed that Azerbaijan refuses to work constructively on the parameters of a ceasefire, instead pressing ahead with military operations.

The Armenian minister said that his joint statement with his Russian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Jeyhun Bayramov, made on October 10 constituted a roadmap to achieve that goal. He said that the first two points concerning the ceasefire and the need to agree on its specific parameters, including the exchange of bodies of killed soldiers and prisoners of war, must be fulfilled immediately and without preconditions.

“The main obstacle in the negotiations has been Azerbaijan’s unwillingness to commit itself to a sustainable and verifiable ceasefire. Azerbaijan refuses to create verification mechanisms, its long-standing position is to avoid a sustainable ceasefire and leave room for mutual accusations,” Mnatsakanian said.

The Armenian minister said that consultations on verification mechanisms are currently underway between the defense ministries of the Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“For now, Azerbaijan refuses to constructively engage in the development of the parameters of the ceasefire and continues large-scale military operations,” the Armenian diplomat added.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the same news agency Bayramov accused Armenia of torpedoing the talks. He claimed that Yerevan is not interested in a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Armenia grossly violated all agreements on an immediate humanitarian truce. Obviously, Armenia is not interested in a negotiated settlement of the conflict,” he said.

The top diplomats of Armenia and Azerbaijan made the remarks ahead of their expected separate meetings with the Russian, American and French co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, an international format spearheading international efforts on resolving the long-running conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of an annual investment forum, Russia Calling, in Moscow on October 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the intricate nature of the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that “it has no simple solutions.”

“What or where is the long-term settlement? It is in finding a balance of interests that would suit both sides – both the Azerbaijani people, whom we treat with unwavering respect, and the interests of the Armenian people,” Putin said.

Last week Putin said that Moscow believes that the death toll from the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that broke out on September 27 was nearing 5,000.

As of October 29, the de facto military authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have confirmed the deaths of 1,163 ethnic Armenian servicemen. Azerbaijan does not disclose its military losses.

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