According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the goal of the “collective West,” that is, NATO and the European Union, is not at all to help Armenia and Azerbaijan come to an agreement.
“They want to get into the region, to sideline Russia’s legitimate interests and establish themselves as a certain force that will play a crucial role,” the Russian Foreign Minister believes.
If we are to believe Lavrov’s statements, Russia is ready to “allow” the West to play a certain role in the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, provided that this role is secondary in nature and is “complementary to the Russian initiatives”.
You may recall that previously Moscow officials repeatedly claimed that there was no alternative to the trilateral agreements reached in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process with the involvement of Russia.
“We are not against other international players trying their hand at mediation,” said Sergey Lavrov. “The main thing is that this mediation should pursue the goal of securing an agreement that will reflect the balance of interests of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples.”
Note that objections regarding the peace initiatives and mediation efforts of the US and the EU to achieve a settlement in the region have been coming from Russia for a long time and on a regular basis. Meanwhile, not a single official representative of the Russian Federation has ever explained what exactly would be threatening Russia’s “legitimate interests” in the South Caucasus if peace were to be achieved with the help of Washington or Brussels. Or why, if such a peace is achieved, Russia will have to “leave ” the region.
The only possible interpretation of the Kremlin’s logic is that Russia’s military-political presence in the South Caucasus depends on the existence of active or frozen conflicts there. That is, if peace is established in the South Caucasus and there is no room for armed clashes, Russia’s presence in this region will lose all meaning.
Obviously, the West ignores Russia’s protests and warnings as it continues with its peace initiatives.
For instance, answering journalists’ questions about Lavrov’s recent statements, Vedant Patel, Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State, said that Washington will carry on with its diplomatic efforts to achieve peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Patel insisted that the United States does not oppose Russia’s engagement in this process. Although one can also deduce from the comments of the State Department spokesman that Washington clearly does not intend to share the lead in this process with anyone.
“If Russia thinks that they can play a constructive role in this, certainly they are welcome to,” Patel said at the briefing, “but we continue to feel that these talks are progressing, they’re proceeding. The United States has been an important partner in this. The Secretary personally has been engaged on this. I know, Alex (the journalist who asked the question—F.M.), you’ve worked on this issue and followed it very closely and are aware of the number of engagements that have happened both at the Secretary’s level and at the working level, and this is all reflective of the fact that we think direct dialogue is key to resolving this issue and reaching a durable and dignified peace. And we also continue to think that dialogue can’t be replaced in this process.”
The State Department spokesperson added that another round of peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan is expected to take place in the US soon.
“We look forward to hosting another round of talks in Washington soon as the parties continue to pursue a peaceful future in the South Caucasus region. We continue to believe direct dialogue is key to resolving issues and reaching a durable and dignified peace,” Patel said, stressing that another round of Armenia-Azerbaijan talks will take place in Washington “very soon”.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said yesterday that the meeting of the foreign ministers scheduled for June 14 in Washington, DC, and postponed at Baku’s request, would be held next week.
Thus, despite Moscow’s displeasure, the peace process in the South Caucasus continues to be spearheaded by the West.
As for the final results, despite the optimistic statements by diplomats, they are still a long way off. There are still contradictions between the sides on fundamentally important aspects of the peace treaty, including the issue of “ensuring the rights and security” of Karabakh Armenians (official Baku rejects this item—Ed.), as well as the choice of maps for the delimitation and demarcation of borders.
Translated from Haqqin.az