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Moscow can see that Baku and Yerevan are ready for cooperation in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday, pointing to the recent meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
“We can see that the parties are ready to continue joint work aimed at reaching a sustainable peace,” the statement reads. “The Vienna talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Moscow meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers are another proof of that,” the Russian Foreign ministry added.
The Ministry pointed out that the parties needed to show political will to resolve the conflict. “On our part, we will continue to actively assist Baku and Yerevan in their search for compromises,” the statement said. “We will also continue to make consistent mediation efforts within the OSCE Minsk Group together with the United States and France,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.
Pashinyan and Aliyev held talks in Vienna on March 29. On April 15, Moscow hosted a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts. The meeting also involved Personal Representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk and the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group: Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconti of France and Andrew Schofer of the United States. The parties said in a final statement that an agreement had been reached to maintain contacts on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan’s territory. It is a self-proclaimed independent republic, not recognised by any of the United Nations member states
In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the Baku government and Armenian residents. In 1994, a ceasefire was reached but relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia has remained strained ever since.
Azerbaijan insists that its territorial integrity be restored and refugees return to Nagorno-Karabakh, which will create conditions for talks on the region’s status. Baku is ready to grant autonomy to the region but is unwilling to hold direct talks with Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Armenia strongly opposes the region’s reunification with Azerbaijan and says that its right to self-determination should be considered.
Russia, France and the United States co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which seeks to broker an end to the conflict. The Group also includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, as well as Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Turkey.