Mirzoyan, who previously served as speaker of the Armenian parliament, flew to the Russian capital on what was his first visit abroad in his current capacity.
Lavrov emphasized this fact at the start of their talks. “This once again underscores the special character of our relations,” he said.
“Russia is a military-political ally and the main economic partner of Armenia,” Mirzoyan said for his part. “In this regard I would like to reaffirm the Armenian side’s readiness to continue forging relations with Russia on the basis of the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.”
Closer ties with Russia, he said, are even more important for Armenia after the six-week war with Azerbaijan.
“Peace and stability in the region is part of our strategy and we are prepared for active dialogue in this direction,” Mirzoyan went on. “But the situation in the region remains quite tense and that is greatly determined by Azerbaijan’s destructive policy. I want to point out that Baku is not fulfilling its obligations stemming from the trilateral statement of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia adopted on November 9, 2020.”
Mirzoyan singled out Baku’s refusal to free dozens of Armenian soldiers and civilians remaining in Azerbaijani captivity nearly ten months after Moscow helped to stop large-scale hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. He also pointed to cross-border Azerbaijani incursions into “sovereign territory of Armenia” and Azerbaijani leaders’ continuing “Armenophobic rhetoric.”
In a statement issued ahead of the talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the situation in the Karabakh conflict zone -- and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in particular -- will be a major theme of Lavrov’s talks with Mirzoyan. It said the two ministers as well as other diplomats accompanying them will also discuss “the process of unblocking economic and transport links” between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
That process is handled by a trilateral working group which was set up by the Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani governments in January. The group co-headed by deputy prime ministers of the three states met in Moscow on August 17 for the first time in more than three months.
Lavrov again stressed on Tuesday the importance of reopening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for commerce. He said that would facilitate an eventual resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mirzoyan held after their talks, Lavrov also said: “We agreed during today’s negotiations that the work of the OSCE Minsk Group is necessary.”
The group’s new Russian co-chair, Igor Khovayev, visited Baku and met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Monday.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly questioned in recent months the need for the Minsk Group’s continued mediation efforts, saying that Azerbaijan resolved the conflict with its victory in the war. He has also said that Baku and Yerevan should sign a “peace treaty” which would commit them to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity.
This would presumably mean a formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.
The Armenian government maintains that the disputed territory’s status should be determined only through renewed peace talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France. Mirzoyan reaffirmed this stance during his trip to Moscow.
“If Armenia and Azerbaijan start at some point negotiations on a peace treaty, their agenda must include the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status based on the principles formulated by the [Russian, U.S. and French] co-chairs of the Minsk Group,” he told journalists.