Lavrov described the trilateral talks as “useful” but reported no concrete agreements reached by the three ministers.
He said he stressed the need to end a grave humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting from Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor supposedly controlled by Russian peacekeepers. But he gave no indications that Baku agreed to unblock Armenia’s vital supplies of food, medicine, energy and other essential items to Karabakh.
In his opening remarks at the talks, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said the “illegal” blockade is “complicating the negotiation process.” Speaking at a separate meeting with Lavrov held earlier in the day, Mirzoyan expressed hope that “some solutions” to the crisis will be found during their discussion with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.
A peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan was also high on the agenda of the trilateral meeting.
“The path is not easy,” Lavrov said, commenting on prospects for its signing. “There are quite a few complex and important issues to be resolved.
“The most sensitive of them was and remains the problem of guaranteeing the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in the context of ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in full accordance with the 1991 Declaration signed by the leaders of the former Soviet republics in Almaty. Its validity is confirmed today by both the Azerbaijani and Armenian leadership.”
The Armenian government, Lavrov went on, “understands the need to convince the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to meet as soon as possible with Azerbaijani representatives” and ascertain their “rights” in accordance with international conventions designed to protect ethnic minorities.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has pledged to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh during talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev mediated by the European Union. In a clear jibe at Yerevan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier this month that Pashinian’s move “radically” changed negotiation process.
Lavrov indicated that Armenia and Azerbaijan are much closer to working out modalities of planned transport links between the two South Caucasus nations. But he did not say when such an agreement could be finalized by a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force dealing with the matter.
Mirzoyan and Bayramov held two rounds of intensive U.S.-mediated negotiations outside Washington in May and June. Meanwhile, the EU’s top official, Charles Michel, hosted a series of fresh meetings between Aliyev and Pashinian in Brussels. Russia claims that the main aim of the Western powers if to drive it out of the South Caucasus.
Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow “understands” the conflicting sides’ “interest” in not only Russian but also Western mediation efforts.
“But there should be no attempts to artificially impose certain agreements not in the interests of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples but for the sake of nice headlines in the media and geopolitical and domestic political considerations,” he said.