Unclear why Armenian PM was reluctant to allow refugees to return to Shusha, Putin says

TASS, Russia
Nov 17 2020
According to Putin, the issue of Shusha "emerged during this round of conflict"

NOVO-OGARYOVO, November 18. /TASS/. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s reason to reject Azerbaijan’s demand concerning the return of refugees to the city of Shusha was unclear, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired on Rossiya-1.

According to Putin, the issue of Shusha "emerged during this round of conflict."

"I held a series of telephone talks with President [of Azerbaijan Ilham] Aliyev and Prime Minister [of Armenia Nikol] Pashinyan on October 19-20. It was when the Azerbaijani Armed Forced retook control of a small part of southern Karabakh," the Russian president said. "On the whole, I managed to convince President Aliyev that it was possible to end hostilities but his condition was that refugees would return to their homes, including to Shusha." "I did not expect our Armenian partners to put it that way, saying that it was unacceptable for them. Prime Minister Pashinyan told me openly that he viewed it as a threat to the interests of Armenia and Karabakh. I still can’t understand what threat it would have posed, provided that it was civilians that were supposed to return and Armenia was expected to retain control of that part of Karabakh, including Shusha, with our peacekeepers deployed there," Putin pointed out.

"We all understand perfectly well that, given the severity of the conflict and the fact that wound haven’t healed yet, they are fresh, there have been many losses, many families have been affected both in Azerbaijan and Armenia, that it will take time for the situation to calm down," Putin noted. In his view, "until then, there is a need to ensure the actual safety of people, particularly refugees from both sides." "This is the mission of Russian peacekeepers," he emphasized.