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Top Russian Official Visits Azerbaijan, Armenia Ahead Of Sochi Talks


Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) receives Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk in Yerevan, November 24, 2021.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk paid visits to Azerbaijan and Armenia on Wednesday to meet with the two countries’ leaders ahead of their talks to be hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week.

Overchuk, who co-heads a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani working group dealing with regional unblocking, in Yerevan discussed prospects of restoring transport links in the South Caucasus with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, the latter’s press office said.

“The further course of the work carried out within the framework of the trilateral statement of January 11 [2021] was also on the agenda of the meeting,” the statement added.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko accompanied Overchuk at the meeting during which the two sides also reportedly discussed issues on the agenda of bilateral cooperation between Armenia and Russia.

Earlier on November 24 Overchuk was in Baku where he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev receives Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Alexey Overchuk. Baku, November 24, 2021.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev receives Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Alexey Overchuk. Baku, November 24, 2021.

Quoting Aliyev’s press office, Azerbaijani media reported that during the meeting in Baku the two “exchanged views” on the activities of the trilateral working group and “expressed confidence that unblocking of transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan soon will contribute to stability and economic development in the region.”

Restoration of economic and transport links in the region is one of the provisions of the Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped a 44-day Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Nagorno-Karabakh last November.

One year after signing the deal Azerbaijan and Armenia still appear to interpret differently its clause dealing with regional unblocking.

Aliyev has pushed for what he calls a Zangezur corridor that will link Azerbaijan with its western Nakhichevan exclave via Armenian territory, while Pashinian has rejected any ‘corridor logic’ behind the future regional unblocking, insisting that Armenia must not lose sovereignty over transport routes passing through its territory.

Visiting Yerevan earlier this month, Overchuk effectively backed Armenia’s position. “It seems to us that we are getting close to concrete decisions, which are first and foremost based on the notion that the countries will retain sovereignty over roads passing through their territory,” Russia’s deputy prime minister said during a meeting with Pashinian on November 5.

In a related development today Armenia’s Foreign Ministry reported about a phone call between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

It said that the two discussed issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and “the course of the implementation by the sides of their commitments under the trilateral statements.”

The meeting between the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is due to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi on November 26.

Pashinian and Aliyev have also accepted the European Union’s offer to meet on the sidelines of the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on December 15.

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