MOSCOW — Armenia and Azerbaijan are committed to peacefully resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday in a statement on the 25th anniversary of a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
The agreement took effect on May 12, 1994 after being signed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani defense ministers and the commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army. Hundreds of soldiers from both sides have been killed since then in ceasefire violations that have intensified in the last several years. But these periodic skirmishes along the “line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have not escalated into another all-out war so far.
“The May 12 agreement remains the basis for maintaining the ceasefire regime,” read the Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
The statement said that more “time is required” for the conflicting parties to reach a mutually acceptable peace deal. “We see the readiness of the parties to continue joint efforts at achieving a lasting peace,” it added, pointing to a recent series of high-level Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations.
The ministry said Moscow will carry on with its “active assistance” to the negotiating process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France.
“We can see that the parties are ready to continue joint work aimed at reaching a sustainable peace,” the statement reads.
“The Vienna talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Moscow meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers are another proof of that,” the Russian Foreign ministry added.
The Ministry pointed out that the parties needed to show political will to resolve the conflict.
“On our part, we will continue to actively assist Baku and Yerevan in their search for compromises,” the statement said. “We will also continue to make consistent mediation efforts within the OSCE Minsk Group together with the United States and France,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.
Truce violations in the conflict zone have decreased significantly since Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met for the first time in September. Pashinian and Aliyev held more face-to-face talks in the following months, most recently in Vienna on March 29.
The foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan as well as Russia met in Moscow on April 15. Azerbaijan’s Elmar Mammadyarov said afterwards that they discussed, among other things, a 2016 Russian plant to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Russia’s Sergey Lavrov effectively confirmed this.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry insisted, however, that “no negotiations on any plan are underway at present.”
The Russian peace plan has still not been made public. Lavrov said only that it is in tune with the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement which have repeatedly been laid out by the U.S., Russian and French mediators in recent years.