Dmitry Peskov

MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — The Kremlin has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to organize fresh talks between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan one year after brokering a ceasefire that stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Yes, such a meeting is being prepared, and it is prepared in the format of a video conference,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency on Sunday.

Peskov gave no date for the talks. He told reporters on Monday that it is still not clear when the video conference will likely take place.

Armenia and Azerbaijan did not immediately confirm the announcement. In televised remarks aired late on Sunday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that no meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has been scheduled for November 9, which will mark the first anniversary of the ceasefire.

An Armenian media outlet reported late last month that during the upcoming talks Aliyev and Pashinyan will sign two Russian-drafted documents announcing the start of the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the opening of transport links between the two South Caucasus states.

Pashinyan met in Yerevan on Friday, November 5 with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk, a co-chair of a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force dealing cross-border cargo traffic. Overchuk said that the group has made important decisions. Armenia and Azerbaijan will “retain sovereignty over roads passing through their territory,” he stressed.

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In a statement issued later on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry likewise said the working group has reached an agreement to that effect. The ministry put that in the context of media speculation about the “so-called Zangezur corridor” that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia Syunik province.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly claimed that the truce accord envisages such a permanent “corridor.” Armenian leaders deny that.

In a related story, Azerbaijan insisted on November 5 that Armenia must recognize its territorial integrity and sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh through a “peace treaty” proposed by Baku.

Senior Azerbaijani officials complained that Yerevan has not yet accepted the proposal made after last year’s war in Karabakh.

“Our proposal is very clear: Armenia must respect neighbors’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. This would help it to get out of an economic and transport deadlock and become a thriving regional country, “Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said during an international conference held in the Azerbaijani capital.

In a clear reference to Karabakh, both Bayramov and Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s chief foreign policy aide, said the Armenian side must drop its “territorial claims” to Azerbaijan.

Hajiyev echoed Aliyev’s repeated assertions that Baku essentially ended the conflict with its victory in the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November. ”The Karabakh issue is no longer a foreign policy issue for Azerbaijan,” he said. ”It’s an internal issue.”

Armenian leaders maintain that the conflict remains unresolved, citing joint statements made in recent months by the US, Russian and French mediators leading the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. They say Karabakh’s internationally recognized status has yet to be determined on the basis of the mediators’ peace proposals.

Some Russian and Armenian media outlets reported last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host fresh talks between Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. claimed that Aliyev and Pashinyan will sign two documents envisaging the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the opening of transport links between the two South Caucasus states. It said one of those documents will also commit Baku and Yerevan to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity.

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan did not rule out afterwards the possibility of an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit while saying that it is not planned yet.

Bayramov and Mirzoyan had separate phone calls with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week.


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