No Alternative to Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship for Karabakh Peace says Lavrov
MOSCOW, Russia (ArmRadio)— “There is no alternative to the Minsk Group co-chairmanship format for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, if we are really committed to seeking a mutually acceptable solution,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a joint press conference with visiting Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
He said the Minsk Group Co-Chairs have spoken about the need to accelerate the negotiation process. “The latest statement adopted in Munich underscores the unacceptability of the use of force and military rhetoric and stresses the necessity to implement the agreements reached at the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg,” Lavrov said.
“We’ll continue to work in cooperation with out French and American counterparts to create an atmosphere conducive to a constructive dialogue that will allow to consider concrete offers on the Karabakh settlement,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
Speaking about the future of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Lavrov said “we cannot be indifferent towards the issue, especially considering that the Office is headed by a Russian citizen.”
“The German and Austrian chairmanships of the OSCE have worked hard to settle the issue with Azerbaijani colleagues,” Lavrov said. He voiced hope that the latest offer will help solve the question.
In addition, Lavrov has accepted Nalbandian’s invitation to visit Yerevan.
“The Foreign Minister of Armenia invited me to visit Yerevan, and I accepted the invitation,” Lavrov told reporters at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of the Armenian-Russian relations, reported TASS.
“The date of the visit will be discussed separately,” Lavrov added.
“The Armenian-Russian relations are an exemplary model of bilateral cooperation, probably the most effective and successful one on post-Soviet space,” Nalbandian said.
During the Wednesday press conference, Nalbandian was asked to brief on his February 16 meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Munich.
The Armenian Foreign Minister mentioned the need to implement the agreements reached during the meeting of the presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in Astrakhan in 2010.
“Recently Armenia returned the body of an Azerbaijani saboteur, who had killed three servicemen in the territory of Armenia. The Azerbaijani side insisted he wasn’t a saboteur; it was turning the situation upside down regarding the sabotage attempt of the last year’s end. However, when the body was returned, the saboteur was named a national hero by the special order of the Azerbaijani president. The formulation was very interesting, it said: ‘For successfully carrying out the assignment.’ This means they tasked him to sabotage and named him a national hero for that. Moreover, prior to reaching an agreement on returning the body, the Azerbaijani side was announcing that Armenia must return the body as a humanitarian act,” Nalbandian said.
He stressed as to what humanitarian act they were talking about, when Azerbaijan was interrogating and violently treating an Armenian shepherd on camera, when he on their side. The shepherd was killed and they presented it as suicide.
“In another case, they killed again and announced he had heart failure. And during the April  events, they were not only simply subjecting violence to the servicemen, who had appeared on their side, but were cutting off their heads and displaying them in villages and cities. And the person who was displaying the severed head was afterwards rewarded by the Azerbaijani president and was also reported on the official website of the president,” Nalbandian said. He reminded of the incident when Azerbaijan downed an Armenian helicopter, and did not allow the crew to evacuate, who might have been still alive, by keeping the crash site under fire for several days.
Nalbandian said that agreements were reached in Vienna, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan, Sochi, and were afterwards not implemented by Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan is signing those agreements, and then takes a step back. We can’t get used to it, the international community also; however, there is no alternative. We will continue to take efforts with the co-chairs, aimed at the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict and first of all creating conditions for advancing the negotiations process,” Nalbandian concluded.
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