MOSCOW — The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan have narrowed their differences on a bilateral peace treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday after hosting fresh talks between them in Moscow.
But he suggested that the two sides need to restore Armenian-Azerbaijani transport links, start delimiting their long border and bolster the ceasefire regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone before they can finalize such a treaty.
Lavrov held separate talks with Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbaijan before sitting down with them in a trilateral format.
“Work on the peace treaty is undoubtedly fundamental,” he told the press after the trilateral meeting. “But our partners confirmed today that without solving the issues of delimitation, unblocking transport and economic links and an overall improvement of the security situation in both Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border it’s very hard to make progress on concrete aspects of the peace treaty. We discussed all this together.”
Lavrov said in that regard that a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force dealing with practical modalities of the transport links will meet next week after a long pause.
“We hope that a positive result will be achieved as a result. The parties are already very, very close to a final agreement,” he said without elaborating.
Lavrov further announced that a separate Armenian-Azerbaijani group working on the border delimitation and demarcation with Russian assistance will also resume its activities soon.
“Regarding the peace treaty, I think that on a number of articles which we discussed today we managed to bring the two sides’ understandings closer to a common vision,” added the top Russian diplomat.
As Lavrov spoke Bayramov and Mirzoyan continued their negotiations in his absence. Mirzoyan’s press office said afterwards that the two ministers had a “constructive exchange of views on issues on which the parties have differences.” It did not disclose those issues.
After the Moscow talks the Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that reads as follows, ‘On May 19, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov held negotiations in Moscow at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov presented their positions on the implementation of the trilateral statements of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
The sides continued the work on the draft agreement “On Peace and the Establishment of Interstate Relations”. A constructive exchange of views took place on topics where the sides still have disagreements.
The Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Russian side for hosting the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The sides agreed to continue the discussions.
The Ministers also had separate meetings with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov.’