Mirzoyan as well as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian discussed with Igor Khovaev, the Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Azerbaijan’s two-month blockade of the Lachin corridor and prospects for kick-starting Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Mirzoyan was reported to tell Lavrov that traffic through the corridor, which connects Karabakh to Armenia and is supposed to be controlled by Russian peacekeepers, must at last resume.
A Russian readout of the call made no mention of the blockade. It said Lavrov “emphasized the importance of resuming as soon as possible work on the implementation of trilateral agreements” reached by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. That, he said, includes working out the “parameters” of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty.
The foreign ministers of the three countries were due to discuss the treaty at a meeting in Moscow slated for December 23. Yerevan cancelled it in protest against the blockade.
Lavrov said last week that he is still ready to host the talks. Mirzoyan afterwards did not exclude that they will take place after all. But he gave no possible dates.
Arman Yeghoyan, an Armenian parliament member affiliated with the ruling Civil Contract, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that he does not know whether Khovaev presented the Armenian leaders with new Russian proposals regarding the peace talks.
Asked whether Yerevan is making the trilateral talks conditional on the reopening of the Lachin corridor, Yeghoyan said: “I cannot make such a categorical claim. On the other hand, it’s clear that the closure of the Lachin corridor does not contribute to that [peace] process at all.”
Artur Khachatrian, an opposition lawmaker, disagreed with Yerevan’s apparent reluctance to negotiate with Baku in the current circumstances.
“The Armenian authorities must negotiate with the Azerbaijani authorities regarding the fate of Artsakh,” Khachatrian said. “Otherwise, it will look like that they have washed their hands [of Karabakh.]”
Some Armenian pro-government lawmakers claimed earlier that the Russians are using the blockade in a bid to force Armenia to join the “union state” of Russia and Belarus and/or open a corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. Moscow strongly denied the allegations.
Russian-Armenian relations have soured lately also because of the upcoming deployment of European Union monitors to Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan. Lavrov has criticized Yerevan for requesting the deployment and refusing a similar mission offered by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Incidentally, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of Russia and Suren Papikian of Armenia also spoke by phone on Friday. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that they discussed regional security and bilateral military ties. It gave no details.