Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Moscow today to discuss the prospects for the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. The closed-door consultations will take place in the wake of the talks between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held in Vienna on March 29.
The ministers will be joined by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov (Russia), Stephane Visconti (France) and Andrew Schofer (the U.S.).
The conversation between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Austria’s capital was their fourth personal meeting but the first official negotiations. The two leaders earlier met on the sidelines of the CIS summits in Dushanbe and St. Petersburg (in September and December 2018) and at the World Economic Forum in Davos (on January 22).
The most important result of the Vienna round was the parties’ willingness to continue direct dialogue on a peaceful settlement. The Minsk Group co-chairs noted at that time that the leaders highlighted the importance of creating an environment conducive to peace and taking further specific and tangible steps in the negotiation process to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Azerbaijani President and Armenian Prime Minister also agreed on humanitarian measures to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and reaffirmed the need for a ceasefire and improvement of the direct communication mechanism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the results of the Vienna meetings with Aliyev and Pashinyan over the phone. The Kremlin reported on April 2 that he pointed to the importance of a negotiation process between Baku and Yerevan and said Moscow was willing to continue to provide assistance to search for ways of a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, including within the OSCE Minsk Group.
Director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the ministers need to continue the substantive discussion that took place between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Vienna.
"No new official agreements were concluded in Vienna, on the contrary, the armed forces of both Armenia and Azerbaijan were put on high alert after this meeting. However, there is chance of a breakthrough in searching for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, because the old Yerevan team, linked to the military commanders of the Karabakh war, has gone, and the new team led by Nikol Pashinyan sets the tasks for Armenia's economic development, which is impossible without lifting a blockade," Sergey Markov said.
"A breakthrough is possible within the framework of the Kazan Formula, developed at the initiative of the Russian President. The Madrid Principles suggest lifting of Armenia's blockade in exchange for de-occupation of the Azerbaijani regions. This opportunity is possible. But it is important to note that there is a risk that it won't be possible make any agreements with the new team. The current Karabakh negotiations at all levels, including the current ministerial talks, are balancing between these two options," the expert stressed.