Peacekeepers, return of regions to Azerbaijan – Russian FM on the conflict in Karabakh
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists earlier today on October 14 that the Russian Federation continues to back a plan which would include the introduction of peacekeepers and Russian observers in Karabakh, the return of several regions in the surrounding area to Karabakh which have been under the control of the Karabakh authorities since the beginning of the 1990s, and a guarantee of safety for the Armenian population of Karabakh.
Fighting in and around Karabakh broke out on September 27. Officially, there have been more than 600 casualties, both civilian and military, over the course of the hostilities with thousands wounded. Unofficially, there are likely many more. On October 10, the two sides signed a truce, however it has not been observed. Fierce battles and shelling of populated areas continue on both sides.
Lavrov said a political settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh is possible and should go in parallel with the implementation of agreements on the ground.
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“Politicians and diplomats declare a ceasefire agreement. In order for all this to be successful, the military needs to immediately agree on the ground what specific measures should be taken, who will objectively monitor the ceasefire on both sides,” he said.
At the same time, the Russian Foreign Minister stressed that no one has even begun to discuss the mechanism of control over the ceasefire.
In addition, according to Lavrov, peacekeepers and Russian observers should be present in Karabakh, but the parties of the conflict should have the last say.
“We do not agree with the position voiced by Turkey and expressed by the President of Azerbaijan Aliyev on the possibility of a military solution to the conflict in Karabakh. <…> Unfortunately, Turkey has confirmed that it will support any actions that Azerbaijan takes. <…> We still defend our point of view that a peaceful settlement is not only possible, but remains the only way. <…> If there is no long-term political agreement in Karabakh, military solutions on the ground will not be sustainable,” he added.
“The proposals that the co-chairs have been working through remain on the negotiating table, their content is already known. This is a step-by-step, gradual liberation of the regions around Karabakh, observing the guarantee of the security of Karabakh and ensuring reliable ties between Armenia and Karabakh,” Lavrov said.
The Karabakh War was an armed conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis which occurred from 1991-1994 in the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region and the surrounding region. The war ended when a truce was signed, but exchange of gunfire still continues to break out periodically.
The Armenian population in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic lives as a de-facto independent republic, unrecognized by any government in the world, including Armenia. Azerbaijan considers Karabakh and the surrounding territory taken during the war to be occupied, and demands that it be returned to Azerbaijan.
Negotiations held to settle the conflict have not yet yielded results.
The last full-scale outbreak, known as the “April War” or the “Four Day War,” took place in April of 2016. Ten people from each side were killed as a result of the conflict.