Russia is focused on a meeting under the ‘3+3’ format (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Russia, Türkiye), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Baku.
The minister made the remarks during a joint conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart, entitled “Russian-Azerbaijani relations in the 21st century: Strategic partnership in the context of regional security” held as part of the 3rd meeting of the Russia-Azerbaijan Expert Council in Baku.
He stated that preparations are underway for the meeting, noting that such a meeting was held before, in which Georgia refused to partake.
“This platform contributes to the creation of multifaceted cooperation for both the countries of the region and their neighbors. We also agreed to continue mutual activities within the framework of the Caspian Five, and we also talked about our mutual relations on serious issues required by international cooperation organizations,” the minister said.
The Russian minister expressed his country’s appreciation of the political ties between the two countries and invited Bayramov to Moscow.
“We highly appreciate the bilateral political ties between Azerbaijan and Russia. Last year alone, our presidents met 7 times and had 12 telephone conversations,” Lavrov added.
Further, Bayramov noted the agile development of trade relations, stressing that the trade turnover between the two states increased by 24 percent in 2022. He also noted that cargo traffic along the North-South corridor increased by 50 percent in 2022.
“Azerbaijan cooperates with 80 Russian regions, and this cooperation is developing dynamically,” the Azerbaijani foreign minister said.
Moreover, he informed that the number of people traveling from one country to another has increased, with the number of fights between the two countries reaching 135 per week
Talking about the North-South project, Lavrov expressed Russia’s interest in cooperation in this regard and its readiness to move to the practical implementation of the project’s missing components.
“We are interested in cooperation in the liberated territories, in the energy sector, as well as the implementation of megaprojects. Also, an economic forum between Azerbaijan and Russia will be held in Moscow this year,” he added.
He also added that discussions are underway on the construction of the Rasht-Astara section.
“Baku and Moscow are in constant talks on issues of transport cooperation. Our presidential administrations are directly involved in the process of creating transport links, including on the Rasht-Astara section. Russia and Azerbaijan play a leading role here,” he stressed.
The conference also touched on the normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian ties, where the Azerbaijani official pointed out that Armenia demonstrates an unconstructive position towards the work on a peace treaty.
“If at the initial stage of the process Armenia was throwing in some ideas that were never spoken out, attempts to give this treaty some kind of abstract framework nature, at the next stages of the negotiation process, Armenia moved away from this position, probably understanding its absurdity. But then we witnessed other surprises when at the end of December, literally a day before the scheduled and pre-agreed face-to-face meeting in Moscow for the third round of negotiations on the text of the peace agreement, Armenia refused to participate in this format,” he said.
The official then noted that Armenia’s position on the normalization of relations has become more destructive after the start of the EU mission.
Similarly, Lavrov stressed that the latest statements of Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan about Russia’s military presence in Armenia creating security threats for the republic “remain entirely on his own conscience”.
He then reiterated that Russia is ready to contribute to the signing of the peace agreement between the two states, noting that Baku has agreed to the next meeting to be held in Moscow. However, he added that Armenia has not stated a clear position on the matter.
Furthermore, Jeyhun Bayramov emphasized that the agenda of Baku and Moscow on peace in the region and on the fight against revanchism almost coincide.
Moreover, Bayramov emphasized that the peaceful rally of Azerbaijani eco-activists on the Lachin-Khankandi road is aimed at stopping the gross violation by Armenia of its use, noting that the misuse of the road should not be repeated.
“The root cause of this situation was a gross and repeated violation by Armenia of the provisions of the trilateral declaration, which provides for the sole humanitarian nature of the use of the Lachin-Khankandi road. For two years, Azerbaijan has repeatedly pointed out this misuse and gross violations by Armenia,” he added.
The official underlined that after the situation reached the level of protests, Armenia refused to change its position and attempted to place all responsibility on Azerbaijan and Russia.
He then stressed that Armenia is actively engaged in a propaganda campaign, trying to mislead the international community and create buzz around this situation by refusing constructive dialogue and attempts to find solutions.
“From the first day, Azerbaijan stated that we are doing and will do everything in its power to avoid any negative humanitarian consequences, primarily for the Armenian population living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. And for more than two months, Azerbaijan has been consistently engaged in this, being in almost daily contact with the peacekeeping contingent as well as with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The legitimate demand of representatives of the Azerbaijani civil society representatives must be heard and fulfilled,” he said.
Lavrov added that the road should only be used for the transportation of humanitarian cargo and that the parties are working together to reach this agreement.