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Yerevan Praises Russian Role In Armenian-Azeri Border Talks


Armenia -- Arsen Torosian, the newly appointed chief of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's staff, attends a meeting in Yerevan chaired by Pashinian, January 19, 2021.

Russia is doing its best to broker a peaceful solution to a continuing border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a top aide to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Friday.

Moscow hosted renewed talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani military officials for that purpose on Wednesday. No agreements were announced after that meeting.

Arsen Torosian, the chief of Pashinian’s staff, said Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations will continue “at the highest level” but did not give any dates or other details.

“They will continue so that we reach the kind of a settlement about which we have repeatedly spoken,” he told journalists. “Azerbaijani army units must leave Armenia’s sovereign territory, and that will happen.”

Torosian downplayed the apparent lack of concrete results achieved in the talks so far.

“Time is needed to assess achievements,” he said. “There have been results in the sense that at the highest level there is a mutual understanding with our sole security partner, Russia, as to what solution there must be [to the border dispute.] They are making every effort to ensure that it happens without a single gunshot.”

The Russian and Armenian defense ministers met in Moscow last week to discuss the border crisis. The Armenian Defense Ministry said they agreed on “necessary steps” to resolve it but did not elaborate.

The crisis erupted after Azerbaijani troops reportedly crossed several sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border three weeks ago, triggering an Armenian military buildup there.

Armenia - Armenian soldiers take up positions on the border with Azerbaijan, May 17, 2021.
Armenia - Armenian soldiers take up positions on the border with Azerbaijan, May 17, 2021.

The Armenian Defense Ministry repeatedly threatened later in May to take military action to force them to pull back. However, Pashinian effectively ruled out the use of force even after one Armenian soldier was killed and six others captured by Azerbaijani forces last week.

Pashinian proposed May 27 that both sides withdraw their troops from the contested border areas and let Russia and/or the United States and France, the two other countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group, deploy observers there.

In a joint statement issued the following day, the French, Russian and U.S. mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group backed the proposed troop disengagement. But they did not specify whether their countries support the idea of an international observation mission.

Torosian could not say if any of the mediating powers is ready to send observers. “I’m not the official who receives those reactions and I can’t give a complete answer,” he said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry effectively turned down Pashinian’s proposal earlier this week. Baku denies violating Armenia’s territorial integrity and maintains that its troops took up positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.

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