Igor Popov: No one had expected progress from Moscow ministerial meeting on Karabakh conflict - INTERVIEW
- 26 May 2017
Q: What can you say about the results of the tripartite meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia held in Moscow on April 28? As can be seen from the statement made following the meeting, the talks were unsuccessful. Do you agree with this opinion?
A: Any meeting held with the participation of the conflicting parties, is useful. The consultations that took place in Moscow were no exception in this regard. There was no progress at the meeting and no one expected it. What’s important is that the parties, after a long break, could meet again, exchange views on problematic issues and clarify each other's positions. The Minsk Group co-chairmen intend to visit the region soon in order to clarify the reaction of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leadership and discuss the plans of work for the future. The plans include further contacts of the parties, and a range of issues ahead.
Q: On the day of the 25th anniversary of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Lachin district by Armenian armed forces, the Minsk Group co-chairs made a joint statement. However, the fact that the statement mentioned nothing about the occupation of Lachin district caused dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani side. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry assessed the statement as standard and symptomatic? What is your opinion on this matter?
A: The statement of the co-chairs was related to the escalation of the situation on the contact line, which occurred on May 15-17 this year. The intensive violations of the ceasefire have caused concern. The statement was primarily aimed at urging the sides to take all necessary measures to prevent any escalation in the conflict zone. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s official representative spoke on a similar subject.
Q: The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry also stressed in its statement that Armenia’s president denied the updated Madrid principles in his speech in parliament a few days ago. We would like you to specify on the basis of what principles the talks are taking place.
A: I have talked about this many, many times—to your agency as well. I’m repeating: The basis of the talks is well known and the co-chair countries’ presidents have made it clear in their statements. Remember that we’re talking about the main principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act - non-use of force, territorial integrity, equality and self-determination of peoples, as well as determination of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, return of refugees, liberation of territories, a corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and peacekeeping operations. The sides do not deny this basis. They just disagree as to the order in which its components can be realized. Mediators propose to them options on assistance for finding a balanced solution.
Q: How is the fulfillment of the agreement on extension of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk’s office reached at the Saint Petersburg and Vienna meetings going on?
A: We have agreed on increasing the number of international observers up to seven. However, there is no agreement on details. These include placing observers, financing their activities, and other technical issues. Along with relevant OSCE structures and representatives of the sides, Austria, which chairs the organization, is working to bring the sides to an agreement on this issue.