Beginning of Russian-Armenian talks
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister,
As we agreed at our meeting in Kazakhstan, we are meeting today in Sochi. Sochi was also picked as a venue for the meeting between you and President Aliyev. We have met in this format several times now. I apologise for the autumn weather, but there is nothing one can do, autumn is autumn. But what is most important is that we have the opportunity to meet and talk.
In fact, we already started this discussion during out trilateral meeting in Astana, but of course, it was not enough to sort out such a serious and long-standing issue. To that end, we are implementing your initiative.
Only recently an online meeting at the level of the CSTO heads of state was held at your initiative.
We see the approaches of our colleagues to what is going on at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and around Nagorno-Karabakh. This conflict is decades old, and I agree, it is time to finally settle it. I know that you have the political will to do so, and we support it by all means. We need to find key issues that will allow us to move forward today and later in the trilateral format.
I will let myself remind you about how the agreement on the ceasefire was reached, when we all proceeded from the need to establish peace and create conditions for development, including the development of the economy of Armenia. Therefore, the unblocking of the transport infrastructure, the creation of new routes, all issues related to the development of the economy and the social sphere – these are the issues we have been working on in the interests of the people. Therefore, we need to cover all of these issues today, and I strongly hope that we will make headway.
We have always proceeded from the fact that Armenia has been our strategic partner and an ally from ancient times and to the present day, as I already said at the meeting with the CSTO leaders. So, this is a special situation for us. I hope that we will be able to make steps towards a settlement today.
It is a pleasure to see you.
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you very much, Mr President.
First of all, allow me to thank you for your invitation and for organising today’s trilateral meeting.
Of course, the agenda for our bilateral relations is extensive, but, with your permission, I also want to concentrate on regional security issues in my opening remarks.
Last week, while addressing the Valdai International Discussion Club, you mentioned the possibility of a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan, stressing certain important parameters of this process related to Nagorno-Karabakh and you stated that you supported the choice of those principles that would be favoured by the Armenian side.
I said this at the latest closed-door meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council, which you attended, and I would like to reiterate that, on Nagorno-Karabakh, we find acceptable the approaches proposed by the Russian draft of the basic principles and parameters for establishing interstate relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia.
I hope that you will support the proposal to refer to this document in the text of today’s possible trilateral statement following our trilateral meeting. Armenia has proposed this, but we are still lacking confirmation that the Russian side will support this proposal.
I want to stress that this in no way contradicts the agreements reached in Prague on October 6 of this year. Incidentally, in Prague I was guided by your statements on Nagorno-Karabakh, including those made in public, during the Prague talks.
It is a highly important matter for us to see Azerbaijan withdraw its troops from the Russian peacekeepers’ zone of responsibility in Nagorno-Karabakh, which they invaded in March of this year. Despite the top-level agreements, Azerbaijan’s troops have failed to leave the Russian peacekeeping zone of responsibility in Nagorno-Karabakh. I hope that this problem will be resolved as a result of today’s discussions.
As for the delimitation process at the state border between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, we have repeatedly emphasised that delimitation should be preceded by creating mechanisms to increase stability and security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Russia’s position has been that the creation of a delimitation commission and its operation in and of itself would be a mechanism for border security. Honestly, we did not share this position then, but ultimately, we decided to be guided by the proposal of our strategic ally, that is, Russia. With disregard for this, on September 13, 2022, Azerbaijan initiated a new large-scale act of aggression against Armenia and occupied new territories of our country. It is very important for us to have the Russian Federation’s clear position that emphasises the need for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops back to the positions they held on May 11, 2021.
As for unblocking regional utility lines and roads, you know that Armenia is very interested in this, and we are ready to agree to specific solutions anytime based on Article 9 of the trilateral agreement of November 9, 2020, and the trilateral agreement of January 11, 2021.
In this context, we are also guided by the third clause of your Executive Order On Measures to Maintain Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh of November 9, 2020, and your televised address of November 9, 2020, that reflects the agreements we had reached.
The issue is this: the utility lines and roads in the Republic of Armenia need to be under the complete control of the Republic of Armenia and used in accordance with Armenian law. The Russian Border Service of the Federal Security Service need to enforce the implementation of these agreements.
Mr President, I also want to emphasise the importance of the issue of liberating and repatriating all Armenian nationals that are being held in Azerbaijan. Even though we have discussed this with you dozens of times, and despite the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, this issue remains unresolved.
Thank you very much. I would like to thank you again for the efforts that you are making for peace, stability and security in the South Caucasus.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.