Leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan hold negotiations in Sochi

19:25, 26 November 2021
Leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan hold negotiations in Sochi Photo: Михаил Климентьев/ТАСС

Russian President Putin, Azerbaijani President Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan have met to discuss the Karabakh conflict and other topics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has received Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev first and then Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in the Russian seaside city of Sochi. The agenda of the heads of state included demilitarization in the Karabakh region, re-establishing trade and economic ties, as well as reintroducing transport transit.

“First of all, I’d like to thank you for arriving here to draw some conclusions over the work accomplished this year,” Putin said in his opening speech.

Russia’s President has also highlighted the importance of efforts aiming at re-establishing peaceful life in Karabakh adding that over 53,000 refugees have returned to their homes with assistance from Moscow. However, a lot of work needs to be done, Putin said, taking into account that the countries celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing democratic relations in 2022.

“Unfortunately, there are still issues to solve.  I’m aware of incidents happening at the borders, of victims and injuries. Actually, that is why we have met here: to avoid such situations in the future. But in general, we have done good work over the last year. There is no large-scale fighting which is already a good sign.”

According to the Russian leader, one of the most important things is to deblock transport communications in the Karabakh region to develop the economy and revive it, as well as to provide a secure zone for local residents.

The President has also supported the upcoming meeting of Aliyev and Pashinyan with President of the European Council Charles Michel stressing that “the more direct communication there is, the better it will be”.

Ilham Aliyev offered his condolence over the recent Listvyazhnaya mine tragedy which took the lives of at least 52 people and announced during the meeting that Azerbaijan was ready to launch the border delimitation process adding that he appreciated Moscow’s efforts.

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“We have publicly offered to start working on a peace treaty implying immediate delimitation of the borders with Armenia to put an end to confrontation and recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each other. Everything to start living as neighbors again.”

Pashinyan responded with a similar offer also saying that Armenia sought to have the borders demarcated. He added that the conflict regulation should be made with the assistance of the OSCE.

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“I have repeatedly announced that we are ready to start the demarcation. This subject is crucial to us and we are genuinely interested in solving the issue.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced that the leaders have prepared a press-release which will be published soon.

As the outcome of the talks, Azerbaijan mentioned it seeks to receive a map of mined locations taken in possession after the conflict, while Armenia wants to return its captured soldiers after the border clashes on Nov 16, demilitarize the territory near the countries’ borders and get assurance that Armenian cultural heritage on the seized territories will be preserved.

The negotiations come days after heavy border clashes have been recorded at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border which reportedly took the lives of one Armenian soldier, 32 went missing, seven Azerbaijani military personnel said to be killed and 10 wounded from their side. Both parties accused each other of escalating the situation in the region.

In November, the situation in Karabakh and border districts of the Syunik Region of Armenia aggravated drastically. Both countries reported frequent armed incidents resulting in several casualties. On November 13, an unknown man threw a grenade at Russian and Azerbaijani soldiers at a block post near Karabakh border. Three soldiers were reportedly wounded in the attack.

The Karabakh conflict escalated into full-scale war in 2020. Tensions between Yerevan and Baku remained following the 44-day military conflict along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, resulting in more than 6,500 people being killed. The clashes were stopped with a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement on November 10, in accordance with which Azerbaijan was reunited with some territories lost in the previous conflicts.