By Burc Eruygur
ISTANBUL (AA) – Russia’s foreign minister on Monday announced preparations for a new Caucasus meeting alongside his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.
"We also talked about the activities of the consultative regional platform, I mean the three South Caucasus republics and their three neighbors: Türkiye, Russia, and Iran. This was once the initiative of the president of Azerbaijan, and the first meeting has already been held. And now we are preparing another such event and agree on specific dates and the agenda," Sergey Lavrov told a joint press conference.
Lavrov said trilateral agreements made with Russia remain the basis for a settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia during the normalization of relations between the two countries in the wake of the fall 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“We discussed in detail the entire range of issues of Armenian-Azerbaijani normalization in line with those trilateral documents that were signed starting from November 2020 by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, and the prime minister of Armenia,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov said the documents remain a solid basis for settling issues such as “the unblocking of transport and economic ties, the delimitation of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the achievement of specific agreements on the conclusion of a peace treaty."
Lavrov later reiterated Russia’s readiness to continue to assist Azerbaijan and Armenia in the search for a mutually acceptable peace treaty.
“It is very important to decide on the main, fundamental things, and in this sense, what was agreed on by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Prague on Oct. 6 is of crucial importance, when they reaffirmed their determination to solve all problems on the basis of the UN Charter and the December 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration," he added.
- Fall 2020 agreement
For his part, Bayramov indicated that Azerbaijan has sent a third opinion package to Armenia for discussion of a peace treaty between the two.
"Azerbaijan previously prepared the draft agreement in line with five basic principles and presented it to the Armenian side. After that, two rounds of negotiations were held. We presented the third opinion package on the peace agreement to the Armenian side. It is possible to hold the third round of negotiations on the draft peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the end of the year," Bayramov said.
But Bayramov also said Armenia is still not implementing the trilateral agreements reached on Karabakh in 2020 and 2021.
"These agreements have not yet been implemented by Armenia. Armenian formations have not been removed from the territory of Karabakh yet, and the mine issue remains a sensitive issue for Azerbaijan ... Maps of fields with mines are missing and this leads to tragic events every week," he said.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Baku liberated numerous cities, villages, and settlements in Karabakh from Armenian occupation, ending in a Moscow-brokered truce. The conflict’s peace agreement was celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.
Lavrov and Bayramov also said they also discussed the North-South transport corridor during their discussions.
"This study is now very, very intensive. I think that, in the very near future, we will be able to tell the media about how this process is progressing. I repeat, there is interest from all sides on which its implementation depends,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov further said that the corridor will be beneficial not only for its participants, but also for the global economy.
“This is a significant benefit for all carriers between Asia and Europe … Benefits in every sense: both in time and in financial costs," he said.