MOSCOW — The United States and France have stopped working with Russia within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group that has long been co-headed by the three mediating nations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Moscow held today.

According to Lavrov, the West sacrificed the interests of resolving the conflict because of disagreements with Russia.

“I don’t know what the future fate of the Minsk Group will be, since our so-called French and American partners in this group, in a Russophobic frenzy, in an effort to cancel everything and everything related to the Russian Federation, canceled the trio of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, saying that  they will not be communicating with us in this format. This is their right, if they are ready to sacrifice the interests of the settlement in Karabakh and in the Transcaucasus in general, if they are ready to sacrifice the interests of the Armenian side in this case, this is their choice,” Lavrov said.

In turn, the Armenian Foreign Minister noted that the current geopolitical situation in the world has significantly complicated the work of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship but insisted that Yerevan has received “very clear signals” from the U.S. and France that they remain committed to the Minsk Group. “This is very encouraging,” he said.

“I would like to confirm that although our Azerbaijani colleagues repeat that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship has ceased to exist, that it has nothing else to do, because there is no more Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and because there is no longer such a region called “Nagorno-Karabakh”. Despite all this, the international community continues to see the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, which is very encouraging,” the Armenian minister said.

Lavrov went on to lambaste European Council President Charles Michel for his failure to mention Russia’s role in his statement on his trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in Brussels on Wednesday.

“This indicates what is more important for the EU leadership: to build on what has been achieved or to use the Karabakh theme to ‘mark’ itself along its Russophobic line,” he said. “This is sad. Russia will never sacrifice the interests of our closest allies to some geopolitical, propaganda plans or games.”

Lavrov stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had already laid the groundwork for these agreements during his frequent contacts with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders. In particular, he argued that the latter pledged to create a commission on border demarcation at their November 2021 meeting with Putin held in Sochi.

“We and our colleagues confirmed today that the decision of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan that the delimitation commission will be bilateral with the consultative participation of the Russian side remains in force,” added Lavrov.

Lavrov further announced that a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental body dealing with practical modalities of reopening regional transport links will meet later this month after a four-month hiatus. He said Moscow is also ready to help Yerevan and Baku “create conditions” for concluding the peace treaty.

“We talked [with Mirzoyan] in detail about how we can help our neighbors start this process,” he said.

 

 

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