Moscow. Farid Akbarov – APA. Interview with Igor Popov, Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group
Q. Have the Minsk Group co-chairs already scheduled their visit to the region?
A. We are planning to arrive in the region in the last ten days of October. We’ll pay visits to Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. We are likely to meet with leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as servicemen from both sides. We are intending to review the progress in the fulfillment of the Vienna and Saint Petersburg agreements. Considering the existing working proposals, we’ll discuss prospects of the negotiation process and clarify the military situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, which, according to our estimates, has been relatively quiet until recently.
Q. How do you assess the meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs which was held in Moscow on September 8? You were also received by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. What are your impressions? What specific proposals were discussed at this meeting?
A. The co-chairs held the planned consultations in Moscow. Also, a meeting was held with Russia’s foreign minister, during which the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including the results of the Vienna and St. Petersburg meetings were thoroughly discussed. Lavrov informed his colleagues about the mediation efforts of Russia, sharing the conclusions of the negotiations held on the Karabakh conflict in Baku and Yerevan. The US and French co-chairmen reaffirmed their countries’ approaches to issues that reflect the collective position of the “troika” on the conflict’s settlement.
Q. There are reports suggesting that the issue of return of five of the seven occupied districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh is included in the negotiations’ agenda. What is your opinion of this issue?
A. We have repeatedly spoken on the subject of return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. This problem should be addressed in an integrated way, together with the issues related to the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the return of all refugees, the preservation of a corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, and the holding of a peacekeeping operation. The settlement process is a single package, and any attempt to separate elements preferred by one or the other side as a priority is non-productive.