Russia expresses support for soonest possible start to border delimitation as peace talks appear a distant possibility

Earlier today, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that it supported the soonest possible launch of delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, but remained hesitant about the possibility of peace talks being held in the near future. 

The head of the press service of the Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said in a press conference today (17 March) that Russia was concerned about the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The past weeks have seen Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of repeated ceasefire violations along sections of their shared border. Last week, one Armenian soldier was killed and another was injured as a result of these border clashes. 

In this context, Zakharova said that Russia was “in favour of the soonest launch of border delimitation with the creation of an appropriate bilateral commission". She went on to state that Russia “welcomed the readiness of Armenia and Azerbaijan to start the preparations for a peace treaty and we reaffirm our readiness to support the negotiations process”. However, she added that it was “too early”, to talk about likely timeframes for the signing of a peace agreement. 

Earlier this week, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry revealed the details of the five point peace programme which it sent Armenia, with the stated aim of serving as a basis for the beginning of the negotiations process. These included:

 - Mutual recognition of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of internationally recognized borders and political independence of each other;

- Mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims against each other and acceptance of legally binding obligations not to raise such a claim in the future;

- Obligation to refrain in their inter-State relations from undermining the security of each other, from threat or use of force both against political independence and territorial integrity, and in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the UN Charter;

- Delimitation and demarcation of the state border, and establishment of the diplomatic relations;

- Unblocking of the transportation and other communications, building other communications as appropriate, and establishment of cooperation in other fields of mutual interest.
However, while both sides have, in theory, voiced their support for the peace process, Armenia and Azerbaijan remain worlds apart on certain issues, most notably the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Discussing the details of the peace proposal, the Armenian foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, said that while Armenia had no territorial claims against Azerbaijan, the proposal did not fully reflect the whole agenda. He stated that for Armenia, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh was not a territorial one, but a matter of rights. “It is vital for the Armenian side that the rights and freedoms of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are clearly guaranteed, and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is finally clarified” he said. 

source: and agencies
photo: Maria Zakharova; Official website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs