A trilateral meeting has got underway among President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Sochi.
Speaking at the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin said:
- Dear colleagues and friends.
First of all, I would like to thank you for responding to my invitation and for coming to Russia to sum up the work done over the year since the adoption of the ceasefire statement. Then, in January this year, we confirmed our agreements on a ceasefire and on the restoration of normal life. A lot has been done during this period.
Unfortunately, not all issues have been resolved yet. I am aware of the incidents on the border, the tragic incidents, the deaths and injuries of people on both sides. All this requires special attention from us. In fact, we have gathered today to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
However, quite a lot has been done during the year. First of all, there have been no large-scale combat operations, which in itself is a very good thing. During this period, with our help too, a great deal of work has been done to return refugees, and 53,000 people have returned to their homes. A good monitoring group has been established. Our contingent is operating, and as far as I understand from the assessment of both sides, it works quite well and provides safe conditions for people's lives. There is a Russian-Turkish ceasefire monitoring center. Most importantly, conditions are being created for a normal and peaceful life in the future. This is very important.
A trilateral commission has been set up at the level of Deputy Prime Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. My colleagues provide updates on how things are going. It is not easy. Nevertheless, this work is progressing, and there is reason to believe that we will not only approve the work of the relevant group in the near future for the launch of transport communications, but also take the necessary measures for everyone.
It seems to me that the goal of all our efforts is exactly that, i.e. to create conditions for the revival of the region, for people to feel safe and to be able to engage in normal economic activity there, to develop the economy. And all of this, of course, should be most favorably reflected in the lives of the people of the two countries.
Given the special nature of our relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan, this is of great importance for Russia. We were part of a single state for centuries and we have very deep historical ties. We would not want these ties to be disrupted. On the contrary, we must work to restore and support them in the future.
This is what I wanted to say in the beginning.
President Ilham Aliyev and I have discussed the issues that we will have to agree on in the course of our joint work. We did this with the Armenian side in advance and we have repeatedly discussed this with the Prime Minister of Armenia recently. After arriving at the meeting venue now, we shared our thoughts on this as well. After our trilateral meeting, Nikol Vovayevich will stay on and we will hold a bilateral meeting.
This is what I wanted to say at the beginning of our meeting. If my colleagues have something to say at the beginning of our meeting, please go ahead.
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President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev: Thank you very much for the invitation, Vladimir Vladimirovich. We in Azerbaijan appreciate your personal involvement in the settlement of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia and, of course, your active participation in the coordination of the text of the Statement last year. As you mentioned, we met in this format at the beginning of the year and now we are meeting at the end of the year. We can sum up the results. Of course, the situation in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces is generally stable. There have been no serious incidents. There haven’t been any deliberate provocations. The individual situations observed were not of systemic nature. For this, I would like to thank the Russian peacekeeping contingent for its good service, for ensuring security in a region which experienced a frozen conflict for many years and a full-scale war last year.
During this year, Azerbaijan has shown maximum constructiveness in overcoming the consequences of the war and restoring communications. I think this is one of the important outstanding issues so far. Because almost all the provisions of the Trilateral Statement signed in November last year have been implemented. Therefore, I think – we discussed this earlier today, of course – this topic, as well as the demarcation of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be discussed. We appreciate the support of the Russian side in this matter, including the advisory support.
The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has not been delimited yet. Therefore, we have repeatedly stated that we are ready to start the demarcation process without delay. Moreover, we have openly offered the Armenian side to start working on a peace agreement to end the conflict, recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty and encourage the sides to live as neighbors in the future, to live as neighbors again.
Of course, a number of other issues also arise, but they are resolved promptly, including with the active participation of the Russian side, personally you, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the government and other agencies.
Thank you very much again for the invitation and for another opportunity to hold such a meeting.
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Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Vladimir Vladimirovich, let me first thank you for the invitation and for the organization of this meeting. Before moving on to the agenda of today's meeting, let me offer my condolences on behalf of myself and the Armenian people in connection with the explosion that killed many people in Kuzbass. I want to offer my condolences to all the relatives and friends of the killed miners.
President Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Nikol Pashinyan: Your role and the role of the Russian Federation in stopping the war last year are obvious. After 9 November, Russian peacekeepers were deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh along the Lachin corridor. It is obvious that Russian peacekeepers and the Russian Federation have played an important part in stabilizing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the region. However, I would like to emphasize that the situation is not as stable as it should be. Dozens of people have been killed on both sides since 9 November last year, and some events are taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh. The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has been in crisis since 12 May this year and it is our opinion that Azerbaijani troops have infiltrated the sovereign territory of Armenia. Of course, the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan have not been delimited and demarcated, but there is a state border and this is the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.
I do not agree with the opinion of the President of Azerbaijan that almost all items of the statement have been implemented except for the restoration of communications. As you know and since we have discussed this issue many times, both in person and by phone, there is a problem of hostages, other detainees and prisoners of war. This is a very important humanitarian issue. But I want to note that I believe that we have come here today not only to voice the problems, but also to talk and discuss the issues and solve the existing problems. I have also repeatedly stated that Armenia is ready to begin the process of demarcation and delimitation of borders. The issue of opening and unblocking all transport and economic communications is also very important for us. We are very interested in these issues being resolved. I do hope that we will discuss all these issues today. I saw that during your bilateral meeting with the President of Azerbaijan you mentioned the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The President of Azerbaijan has also mentioned the issue of peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Of course, we are also interested in this and believe that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be carried out under the co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group. I think that many issues should and may be discussed and resolved in a trilateral format, in a bilateral format.
I should say that direct contacts between the officials of Azerbaijan and Armenia are also envisaged. In my opinion, these positive nuances should be emphasized against the background of not so good and negative nuances. Most importantly, I want to repeat, I apologize, that the main purpose of today's meeting is not just to voice whether there are any problems or not. The main thing is that today we can make concrete decisions, or as concrete as possible, to stabilize the situation in the region, in the South Caucasus. Therefore, our responsibility is peace, stability and security of the people. Thank you.
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President Vladimir Putin: It seems to me that what you have just said – both the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia – is very important indeed. Both sides are interested in the normalization of the situation, in the development of a positive solution to the situation. You have just mentioned communications, the opening of communications. Ilham Heydar oglu also spoke about it. Everyone is interested in this issue, including Russia. I mean that we, all the neighboring countries – we are neighbors, we have a large trade turnover – we are all interested in this. First and foremost, we agree that we will begin work on the demarcation and delimitation of borders in the near future – first delimitation and then demarcation. Of course, we will talk about it today although it is clear that the issue is complicated. It remains so from the Soviet Union. There were no clear borders there. But there is an opportunity to talk about all this. I agree with my colleagues that the more contacts, including direct ones, the better. Direct bilateral relations are generally a priority. I know that you will meet in Brussels in the near future. You agreed to go there and meet there. We welcome that too. The more direct communication, the better. I recently spoke with the President of the European Council, Mr. Michel. He is waiting for you. I do hope that we will take a step forward. It will be possible to take further next steps on other platforms. I repeat – we only welcome the involvement of our partners in this dialogue. The main thing is that this dialogue is useful. Thank you very much.
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