MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday rejected as “unscrupulous” a senior Azerbaijani official’s claim that this week’s Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Saint Petersburg resulted in an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh favorable to Baku.
Novruz Mammadov, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s chief foreign policy aide, said on Wednesday that Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian agreed “in principle” on a phased solution to the Karabakh conflict.
Mammadov told Azerbaijani television that the peaceful settlement will involve a gradual liberation of seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1994. “Karabakh’s status will be determined after that,” he added vaguely.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was quick to brush aside Mammadov’s remarks. He said that “no agreement on the conflict’s resolution was reached at the Saint Petersburg summit” hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, denied the Azerbaijani claims in equally categorical terms. “This is an attempt by the Azerbaijani side to interpret the understandings reached [in Saint Petersburg] in a peculiar fashion,” she told reporters in Moscow.
Zakharova pointed to a trilateral statement that was issued by Putin, Aliyev and Sarkisian after their talks. It said the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders reached an “understanding” on unspecified issues hampering a Karabakh settlement. They also reaffirmed their declared support for confidence-building measures meant to strengthen the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone, according to the statement.
“I would ask you — and I think this is a collective request — to be guided by that statement, rather than those very unscrupulous claims involving attempts to interpret the results of the meeting,” Zakharova told reporters in Moscow.
“There is a concrete statement that was made [in Saint Petersburg] and it is an official document,” she said. “One should proceed from it, rather than frivolous or perverse interpretations made by anybody.”