Moscow Again Asserts Grip on Caucasus Border Issues

By Asbarez | Friday, 24 December 2021

Moscow, once again, sought to assert its firm grip on regional developments, saying that issues discussed between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan last week during meetings in Brussels emanated from agreements reached at a meeting in Sochi last month that was mediated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels last week in meetings first mediated by the President of the European Council Charles Michel and later presided over by President Emanuel Macron of France. Following these talks, Armenia and Azerbaijan announced their readiness to reactivate the old Soviet railway links that run through Armenia, Nakhichevan, Iran, Azerbaijan to Moscow.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Friday made to drive home what she said were discussion that took place in Sochi when Pashinyan, Aliyev and Putin met there on November 26.

“Substantive discussions are continuing by the trilateral working group co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of the three countries,” said Zakharova referencing a working group established to make proposals on the opening of transit routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, following an agreement signed in Moscow on January 11.

“I would also like to remind that within the framework of this mechanism, a wide range of issues is being discussed on the unblocking transport and economic ties in the South Caucasus—including the restoration of both railway and transport links in the region. As agreed by the heads of state, we are working toward the immediate launch of specific transport projects,” explained Zakharova, once again, stressing Russia’s role in the process.

Zakharova also urged the sides to make statements that clearly invoke what she called the “positive aspects” of the discussions and “not to make problematic issues a focal point” of the effort.

The spokesperson also touched on the future delimitation and demarcation of borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan and stressed that Russia will provide assistance in that realm, commenting on Michel’s earlier statement voicing the EU’s readiness to assist in the process.

Nevertheless, Zakharova said, Russia welcomes “international efforts aimed at the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. At the same time, it is very important to take into account the regional realities, the agreement between Yerevan and Baku, as well as the added value from it. For our part, we will continue to provide all necessary assistance—including advisory—to the parties.”