Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Moscow Paper Reveals Russian Offer on Access to Karabakh

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By Hrach Melkumian and Ruzanna Stepanian

MOSCOW (Azatutyun) — Citing an unnamed state official, Russia’s leading daily, Kommersant, wrote on Friday, August 11, that Moscow had proposed ending the current situation with the blocked access to Nagorno-Karabakh by opening both the Agdam and Lachin roads.

The paper said the arrangement that both the Azerbaijani and Karabakh sides had almost agreed to eventually did not go through, however.

According to the official “familiar with the regional situation”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed opening the Agdam road first, through which Red Cross vehicles would deliver what was necessary to Nagorno-Karabakh, and a day later, according to Moscow’s proposal, the Lachin road would be opened.

“Such an option was brought to a high level of preparation,” said the unnamed official who spoke to Kommersant.

But, according to him, the Karabakh Armenians first set a condition that Lachin should be opened not one day later, but simultaneously and then demanded that Azerbaijani goods should not be delivered through Agdam. The paper writes that then a scandal related to Azerbaijan’s detention of a Karabakh resident at a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor on charges of war crimes allegedly committed during the early 1990s emerged and “the compromise did not happen.”

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According to the official cited by Kommersant, Moscow assesses the situation as serious and believes that Baku is not inclined to make concessions.

“All attempts to somehow calm the situation that are being made by us, Western and international organizations lead to nowhere. Baku is not backing down,” the official said, adding that the Karabakh authorities are also persistent, in particular, in rejecting the option of using the Agdam road.

According to the Russian official, however, the Agdam road will be opened in any case.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said at a meeting with the head of the Red Cross office in Baku on July 14 that Azerbaijan does not rule out the possibility of “providing assistance” to meet the needs of Karabakh Armenians by using the Agdam-Stepanakert road.

One day later, on July 15, after a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels, President of the European Council Charles Michel said that as well as urging Aliyev to reopen the Lachin corridor he “noted Azerbaijan’s willingness to equally provide humanitarian supplies via Agdam.”

“I see both options as important and encourage the humanitarian deliveries from both sides to ensure the needs of the population are met,” he said.

Authorities in Stepanakert strongly rejected that option, insisting that the Agdam road cannot be an alternative to the Lachin corridor, which, they stressed, should remain solely under the control of Russian peacekeepers in accordance with the terms of the 2020 Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Commenting on the publication in the Russian newspaper, Artur Harutyunyan, a member of Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament, stressed that alternative options could become a subject of discussion only after the Lachin road gets to be operated without interruption.

“We clearly say that we have a corridor under a signed document, the Lachin corridor, which should work without interruption. After it works without interruption, those alternative options are already issues to be discussed,” the region’s lawmaker told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

 

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