Russia will respect decision of conflicting sides to return Artsakh to negotiation table – Zakharova
18:37, 15 March, 2019
YEREVAN, MARCH 15, ARMENPRESS. The resumption of Artsakh’s involvement in Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement talks should be the joint decision of the sides, ARMENPRESS reports Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a press conference on March 15.
“It’s not the first time the Russian Federation, as one of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair countries, has talked about the negotiation format, the change of which can occur in case of the consent of the sides. If at any stage they agree that Nagorno Karabakh should be again represented in the negotiations, it will be the decision of the sides and we will respect it. This is not only our position, but also the other members of the Minsk Group Co-chairs. I would also recommend focusing on March 9 statement of the Co-chairs, where the positions of the RF, USA and France on that issue are clearly presented”, she said.
In their recent statement the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) welcomed the commitment of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to meet soon under the auspices of the Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs, working closely with the two foreign ministers, have been making preparations for this important leaders’ meeting, which will be the first direct contact between the two leaders conducted under Co-Chair auspices.
The Co-Chairs underline the importance of maintaining an environment conducive to productive discussions and continue to assess positively the recent lack of casualties on the front lines. The Co-Chairs also welcome some initial steps being taken in the region to prepare the populations for peace and encourage the sides to intensify such efforts. At the same time, the Co-Chairs reiterate the critical importance of reducing tensions and minimizing inflammatory rhetoric. In this context, the Co-Chairs urge the sides to refrain from statements and actions suggesting significant changes to the situation on the ground, prejudging the outcome of or setting conditions for future talks, demanding unilateral changes to the format without agreement of the other party, or indicating readiness to renew active hostilities.
With reference to some contradictory recent public statements on the substance of the Minsk Group process, the Co-Chairs reiterate that a fair and lasting settlement must be based on the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, including in particular the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples. It also should embrace additional elements as proposed by the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries in 2009-2012, including: return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance; a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding _expression_ of will; the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence; and international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation.
The Co-Chairs stress their view that these principles and elements must be the foundation of any fair and lasting settlement to the conflict and should be conceived as an integrated whole. Any attempt to put some principles or elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution.
Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan