YEREVAN — Armenia will control all road and railway links that will connect Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan through an Armenian region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Yerevan on Thursday.
Lavrov revealed at the same time that the Armenian government has agreed to simplify border crossing procedures for Azerbaijani cargo and travellers that will use the planned transit routes.
Speaking after talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Lavrov said that Baku, Moscow and Yerevan are now finalizing a deal on a “simplified” border control regime for the road to Nakhichevan.
“It will be simplified but it will precisely be based on the recognition of the sovereignty of Armenian territory,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with Mirzoyan. “There can be no ambiguities here.”
“We have a sense that our Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues proceed from this,” he said.
Mirzoyan told reporters his discussions with Lavrov focused on ongoing normalization efforts between Yerevan and Baku, calling the talks “constructive and sincere.”
He stressed that “all roads that will be opened or reopened will remain under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the country through which they pass.” He said Baku and Yerevan have yet to work out “many details” of the transport links.
“But discussions are continuing and I think that we will have mutually acceptable solutions,” added the Armenian minister.
Mirzoyan added that “addressing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is vital, which will include the key points on ensuring the security and all rights of the people of Artsakh and determining the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
In turn, Lavrov said that Yerevan and Moscow “have a common perception that the process moves forward,” stressing he was “sure that there is no other way than the complete normalization of the relations.”
At the press conference, Mirzoyan also reaffirmed Yerevan’s desire for the Minsk Group to play a mediating role in its negotiations with Baku, noting it is the only international body with a mandate to settle the Karabakh conflict.
In addition, Mirzoyan and Lavrov discussed the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in and around Karabakh, both affirming their belief in the peacekeepers’ ability to resolve regional issues.
Calling the peacekeepers “a factor to prevent provocations and ensure the security of the people of Artsakh,” Mirzoyan said that he saw a role for the peacekeepers in resolving ongoing tensions with Azerbaijan over the villages of Parukh and Khramort.
In March, Azerbaijani troops moved into those two Karabakh villages, which are technically under the control of Russian peacekeepers, displacing several hundred Armenian residents.
Lavrov said that “de-escalating the situation” in Parukh and Khramort is a priority for Russia, adding that “these issues will be studied and resolved within the framework of work,” referring to ongoing talks to delimit the Armenia-Azerbaijan border that so far have had no tangible results.
Turning to the issue of Armenia-Turkey normalization efforts, Mirzoyan accused the Turkish government of continuing to link normalization with the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, a position he called “not constructive.”