Putin reports progress in Armenia-Azerbaijan talks, says only technical issues remain
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that “strictly technical” problems remained in resolving one of the main disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, neighbors who have fought over disputed territory.
Putin met in various formats in Moscow with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, discussing a dispute over a winding road called the Lachin Corridor. It is the only authorized connection between Armenia and the disputed territory, Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is a lifeline for the supply of the approximately 120,000 inhabitants of the region.
Aliyev and Pashinyan, at a broader regional summit hosted by Putin in Moscow, lambasted each other for their positions on the land corridor. But Putin said that on the “main issues there is agreement”, and later said all that remained were “surmountable obstacles”, calling them differences in terminology and “strictly technical”. He said representatives from Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan would meet within a week to try to resolve the differences.
According to Russian state news agency Tass, Pashinyan said last Wednesday that Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other’s territorial integrity within Soviet administrative borders. He added that on Monday Pashinyan said that the territory of Azerbaijan that his government is ready to recognize includes Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinyan said on Thursday: “I want to confirm that Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity, and on this basis we can say that we are progressing quite well. towards the settlement of our relations”.
For his part, Aliyev said on Thursday that the Armenian leader’s statements ensure that “the issue of agreement on other points of the peace treaty will go much easier, because that was the main factor on which we did not have could not reach an agreement”.
Putin told the leaders that a key sign of progress was “agreement on the fundamental issue of territorial integrity.” He added: “And that’s actually the basis for agreeing on other matters of a secondary nature.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 that killed more than 6,000 people. The war ended with a Russian-brokered armistice under which Armenia relinquished territories surrounding the region. Nagorno-Karabakh is in Azerbaijan, but Armenian-backed ethnic Armenian forces had controlled the region and surrounding territories since 1994.
The end-of-war agreement left the Lachin Corridor as the only permitted connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Russia has sent a peacekeeping force of 2,000 troops to maintain order, including ensuring that the Lachin Corridor route remains open. However, last December Azeris claiming to be environmental activists began blocking the road, saying they were protesting against illegitimate mining by Armenians. Armenia maintains that Azerbaijan orchestrated the protests.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly alleged that the Armenians used the Lachin Corridor to bring arms and ammunition into Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of the terms of the armistice.