Armenia, Azerbaijan ready to sign peace treaty with no strings attached, says Russian diplomat

Armenia, Azerbaijan ready to sign peace treaty with no strings attached, says Russian diplomat

A number of complex issues related to peace treaty have yet to be resolved, says senior Russian Foreign Ministry official

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Armenia and Azerbaijan's readiness to sign a peace treaty does not imply that they are willing to accept any conditions, a senior Russian diplomat said on Friday.

Denis Gonchar, head of the Foreign Ministry's Fourth Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Department, told Russian state news agency TASS in an interview that a number of complex issues related to the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan have yet to be resolved.​​​​​​​

"The most important of them is the issue of ensuring the security and observance of the universally recognized rights of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh within the legal framework of Azerbaijan," he noted.

While international support for the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace agreement is important, Gonchar said Western countries should not hasten its implementation because the quality of the document is more important than the speed with which it is signed.

"The timing of the signing should be determined by the parties themselves. The task of responsible mediators is not to force the negotiation process ... but to facilitate the achievement of sustainable, long-term agreements.

"A hastily prepared, ‘raw’ peace treaty will not bring sustainable peace to the region. On the contrary, it will lay the prerequisites for new conflicts and tragedies in the future. Priority should be given not to speed, but to the qualitative preparation of balanced and mutually acceptable solutions," he stressed.

- ‘Georgia under Western pressure'

Gonchar criticized Western countries for putting pressure on Georgia over its decision to resume air traffic with Russia, including through sanctions, saying Moscow sees such coercive measures as meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign countries and their relations with third countries.

The Russian leadership decided to resume direct flights with Georgia and introduce a visa-free regime for Georgian citizens based on the need to facilitate contact between the people of the two countries and to promote humanitarian and economic ties between Moscow and Tbilisi, he underlined.

The diplomat also said there is interest in opening transit routes from Russia to Armenia via Georgia because it will improve the logistics and transit potential of the region and will work in the interests of all South Caucasus countries.

In response to a question about "problematic moments" in Russia's relations with Armenia, Gonchar said they are provoked in the first place by "the incessant attempts of Western countries to harm the Russian-Armenian partnership."

"Methods, including absolutely dirty ones, are used – sanctions, blackmail, unfair competition, amorphous offers, and promises, in which, as the Armenian proverb says, there is more smoke than barbecue. What the Western 'friendship' turns out to be, everyone could repeatedly see by examples in various parts of the world, including the post-Soviet space," he said.

Moscow is relying "on the wisdom of our Armenian friends" and is determined to solve all problematic issues in an allied way, within the framework of a direct and frank dialogue, he emphasized.

In the case of Azerbaijan, the new allied level of relations allows Moscow and Baku to speak very frankly about sensitive regional issues, including the process of normalizing relations with Yerevan, the role of the West and Türkiye in the South Caucasus, he said.

"As for the problematic issues, we are discussing them all in a mutually respectful and constructive manner with our Azerbaijani partners,” he said.

However, he added, “Their exposure to the public does not always benefit the cause. By the way, it is in the information sphere that we see reserves for deepening cooperation so that the coverage of topics related to Russia in Azerbaijan and vice versa is more objective and balanced."

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