Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Thursday (10 March) met separately with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts, Jeyhun Bayramov, and Ararat Mirzoyan, on the margins of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.
World leaders and foreign ministers are currently gathered in the southern Turkish resort of Antalya to discuss current world affairs and to “recode diplomacy”. The forum was also the location for the first high-level contact between Kyiv and Moscow, when Lavrov and the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, also on Thursday. While the negations did not lead to any major breakthroughs, the fact that the meeting even took place in Turkey is seen as a major diplomatic and political feather in the cap of Turkish diplomacy.
According to the Armenian readout, Lavrov and Mirzoyan touched upon a variety of issues relating to the strengthening of bilateral relations during their meeting, including increasing efficiency in the CSTO, EEU, CIS, and other international platforms where Russia and Armenia are part of. They also commended the high level of political dialogue taking place between the two countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have both recently accused each other of military provocations along the border and of violating the ceasefire. Mirzoyan updated Lavrov on these incidents, which left one Armenian serviceman dead and another injured earlier this week. The Armenian FM called for the implementation of the “necessary steps to ease the tensions”. The two ministers agreed on the need to restart Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on a "comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict".
The sides also touched upon the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey. Mirzoyan’s attendance at the forum is indicative of the positive trend of this process; while he was formally invited in January, the Armenian foreign minister refrained from accepting the offer until there was more clarity on the direction of the normalisation talks. His decision to participate is therefore seen as a signal that the Armenian government is pleased with the way the talks are developing.
With Bayramov, Lavrov discussed the implementation of the trilateral statements, and the unblocking of transport links in the South-Caucasus. According to the readout by the Russian foreign ministry, the sides agreed to speed up the preparations for the second session of the “multilateral platform meant to promote peace and economic cooperation in the South Caucasus”, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey and Iran. The first meeting of this “3+3” forum took place in Russia late last year, without the participation of Georgia.
The Azerbaijani and Russian FMs also exchanged views on the current situation in Ukraine, negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as issues pertaining to Azerbaijani-Russian bilateral relations