Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss new steps in key areas of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.
“Russia values the partnership and good-neighborly relations that bind our countries and peoples, therefore, we followed the outbreak of an armed conflict with concern and sincere concern for the fate of people,” Putin said as he welcomed the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders for a trilateral meeting in Moscow.
He noted that “the large-scale hostilities led to significant human casualties, exacerbated the already difficult situation in the South Caucasus and increased the risks of the spread of terrorism.
He thanked the leaders of the two countries for their positive response to the active mediation efforts undertaken by the Russian side “aimed at helping to stop the bloodshed, stabilize the situation and achieve a sustainable ceasefire.”
“The diplomatic and military departments of our countries worked hard to solve this complex problem. We were in constant contact, together we were looking for a compromise,” the Russian President stated.
He noted that the trilateral document signed on November 9 is primarily about the complete cessation of hostilities, about the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the region and, which is especially important, about providing the civilian population affected by the clashes with all-round and effective assistance in returning to normal life.
Putin stressed that in all its actions Russia has sought to follow the key developments achieved within the OSCE Minsk Group.
“We continue to regularly check our actions with our Minsk Group co-chairs,” he said.
“Today we can state with satisfaction that the trilateral agreements are being consistently implemented. We are convinced that this creates the necessary prerequisites for a long-term and full-scale settlement of the long-standing conflict on a just basis, in the interests of both the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples,” the Russian President said.
“A Russian peacekeeping contingent has been deployed at the request of the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides to control the observance of the ceasefire on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor. A system has been established to effectively enforce the ceasefire. There are 23 observation posts in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers; four additional posts are responsible for traffic safety along the corridor. Now the situation in the region is calm,” he added.
Putin noted that the International Center for Humanitarian Response is successfully operating, within the framework of which specialists from the three countries solve pressing issues related to the establishment of normal life in settlements, reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure, and protection of historical, religious and cultural monuments. The staff of the center are engaged in the restoration of energy and heat supply.
“More than 800 tons of building materials have already been delivered from Russia to the conflict zone, in total – more than 1.5 million tons of humanitarian supplies have been sent. Medical assistance is provided to the population. More than 479 hectares of territory were cleared of mines, 182 kilometers of roads, 710 buildings and structures were inspected. More than 22 thousand explosive objects were discovered and destroyed,” the Russian President noted.
He stressed the important of outlining the next steps in the key areas of settlement enshrined in the joint Statement of November 9 last year. “I mean the issues related to the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, clarification of demarcation lines, solution of humanitarian problems, protection of cultural heritage sites.”
“The task of unblocking economic, trade and transport links in the region and opening borders deserves special attention. It is assumed that these issues will be dealt with by a special trilateral working group chaired by the vice prime ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he noted.
“I would like to hope that our talks today will take place in a businesslike atmosphere and will serve to ensure lasting peace, security and progressive socio-economic development in the region, something we are all undoubtedly interested in,” the President stated.