Vyacheslav Volodin meeting with Sahiba Gafarova

MOSCOW — In what appeared to be a stern warning to Armenia’s leadership, Russia’s State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Monday that European bodies must not be involved in efforts to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Singling out the European Parliament and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Volodin claimed that they can only fan regional tensions. Armenia and Azerbaijan should stick to their agreements brokered by Russia during and after their 2020 war, he told Azerbaijani parliament speaker Sahiba Gafarova during talks held in Moscow.

“And those who make statements in the direction of European institutions may simply lose the country,” warned Volodin, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said that the European Parliament, the PACE and other Western bodies have never settled any conflict and have caused instead the breakup of Yugoslavia and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Therefore, while wishing to involve the European Parliament and the PACE, they should think ten times and weigh up how that could end, using the example of Ukraine, Yugoslavia and other countries,” Volodin went on. “Anyone who wants peace, who wants to resolve the situation, must not only stay away from these quasi-parliaments — both the PACE and the European Parliament — but clearly understand that their involvement will aggravate the situation, create more and more problems. And if they do that, they must be held accountable for the consequences.”

Both the European Parliament and the PACE discussed at recent plenary sessions Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

The European Union legislature urged Azerbaijan to “immediately reopen” the Lachin corridor in a resolution approved on January 19 and hailed by Armenian officials. The resolution also condemned the “inaction” of Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh and called for their “replacement with OSCE international peacekeepers.”

Late last week, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs released a report accusing Russia of conducting “disinformation campaigns” against the West in Armenia. It also demanded the immediate withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Armenian territory seized during deadly border clashes last September.

Armenian leaders regularly complain about Russia’s reluctance to condemn the Azerbaijani military aggression. They say that this is why they asked the EU to launch a new monitoring mission along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.

Much to the dismay of Moscow, the EU agreed last month to deploy more than 100 monitors there on a two-year mission. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the 27-nation bloc of seeking to “push back Russia’s mediation efforts at any cost.”

Russian-Armenian relations have soured lately also because of the Azerbaijani road blockade of Lachin Corridor  Linking Armenia and Artsakh. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of doing little to unblock the vital road.


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