Putin says normalization in Yerevan and interests of Baku


Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he hoped for a “normalization” of ties between the Armenian and Azerbaijani rivals who pledged not to use force in their territorial dispute after tripartite talks, reaffirming Moscow’s role in as a Caucasian broker.

The summit came as Western engagement grows in the volatile Caucasus region, where Russia – distracted by its war in Ukraine – is visibly losing influence after decades of dominance.

The move comes a month after the worst clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan since their war in 2020.

“It was a very useful meeting which created a very good atmosphere for possible future agreements,” the Russian president told reporters.

“Russia will do everything to find a final and comprehensive settlement” of the conflict, he said. “It is in everyone’s interest to normalize relations.

“We will stay in touch and continue the dialogue and the search for the solutions necessary to end this conflict,” Putin said.

In a joint statement after the Russian-mediated talks, Armenia and Azerbaijan “agreed not to use force” to resolve their dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

They also agreed “to settle all disputes solely on the basis of recognition of mutual sovereignty and territorial integration”.

The two countries underlined “the importance of active preparations for the conclusion of a peace agreement…to guarantee a lasting and long-term peace in the region”.

Ahead of the trilateral summit in Sochi, Russia’s Black Sea resort, Putin met separately with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

“The most important thing is to secure peace and create conditions for development,” he told Pashinyan.

Ahead of the meeting, Pashinyan said Yerevan’s priorities included Azerbaijan’s withdrawal from areas of Karabakh controlled by Russian peacekeepers and the release of Armenian prisoners of war.

‘Momentum’

Putin then received Aliyev, who thanked his Russian counterpart for having “prompted the process of normalization”.

“The Karabakh conflict is already part of history. This issue was resolved two years ago. So there is hardly anything left to discuss in this context,” Aliyev insisted.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two wars – in 2020 and in the 1990s – over the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated by Armenians.

A six-week war in the fall of 2020 that claimed the lives of more than 6,500 soldiers on both sides ended in a Russian-brokered deal that saw Yerevan cede swaths of territory it controlled since many decades.

Last month, 286 people on both sides were killed in clashes that jeopardized a slow and tentative peace process.

Hostilities ended with a US-brokered ceasefire, following previous failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce.

With Moscow increasingly isolated on the world stage following its offensive against Ukraine, the US and EU have played a leading role in mediating peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan .

EU chief Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted talks between Pashinyan and Aliyev in Brussels in August.

After a series of diplomatic efforts from Brussels and Washington, the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met on October 3 in Geneva to begin drafting the text of a future peace treaty.

Russia and EU leaders have traded criticism of their respective efforts in the Karabakh conflict, with Moscow and Paris in particular trading blows this month.

Putin recently dismissed a comment by Macron who said Moscow was “destabilizing” the peace process.

Moscow has traditionally acted as an intermediary between the two countries, which were both part of the Soviet Union.

Russian blue helmets

The 2020 ceasefire agreement saw Russia deploy a force of 2,000 peacekeepers to the region to oversee a fragile truce.

Ahead of the talks, Armenian Pashinyan said he was ready to extend their presence for up to two more decades.

Russia’s peacekeeping mission has been criticized by some, even Pashinyan worrying about strength, in rare Armenian criticism of his ally.

The EU has announced an “EU civilian mission” to Armenia to monitor ceasefire violations.

Aliyev has vowed to repopulate Karabakh with Azerbaijanis and recently reopened an airport in the conquered territories.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.


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