The negotiations between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan Sergey Lavrov, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and Ceyhun Bayramov on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh have been going on for just over an hour, reports a correspondent.
Almost simultaneously with the beginning of the trilateral negotiations in Moscow, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the nation and stated that Baku gives Yerevan the last chance to return to the negotiation format and withdraw troops from Karabakh. The President of Azerbaijan threatened that if the Armenian Foreign Minister said at the Moscow meeting that “Karabakh is Armenia”, the negotiations would be out of the question. At the same time, he noted that the meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia in Moscow should clarify a lot, he said, the basic principles should be adopted. Aliyev also stressed that the status quo for Karabakh no longer exists.
In Armenia, the upcoming consultations were commented with more restraint – as TOP NEWS told the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the agenda of the meeting should concern only the cessation of hostilities and the resolution of humanitarian issues, including the exchange of prisoners of war and the bodies of those killed.
In turn, Agence France-Presse, citing the administration of the French president, said that Armenia and Azerbaijan could conclude a truce on Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday night or Saturday.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan arrived in Moscow for consultations at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, according to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s meetings with the heads of foreign ministries of the two countries are not yet planned.
Battles on the line of contact in Karabakh began on September 27. Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of unleashing military operations, Karabakh reports about artillery shelling of peaceful settlements of unrecognized republic including its capital Stepanakert. Armenia has declared martial law and – for the first time – general mobilization, arguing that Ankara actively supports Baku. Azerbaijan has introduced partial mobilization.
The leaders of Russia, the United States, and France called on the opposing sides to stop fighting and commit to starting negotiations without preconditions. Turkey said it would provide any support it requested to Azerbaijan as the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh deteriorated again.
The conflict in Karabakh began in February 1988, when the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced that it would withdraw from the Azerbaijani SSR. During the armed confrontation in 1992-1994, Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts. Since 1992, negotiations on peaceful settlement of the conflict have been held within the OSCE Minsk Group led by three co-chairmen – Russia, the USA, and France. Azerbaijan insists on preserving its territorial integrity, Armenia protects the interests of the unrecognized republic, as NKR is not a party to the negotiations.