Putin reports progress in Armenia-Azerbaijan talks, says only technical issues remain

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that “strictly technical” issues remain in resolving a major dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the neighbors at war over disputed territory.

Putin met in Moscow in various formats with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to discuss the dispute over the winding road known as the Lachin Corridor. It is the only authorized link between Armenia and the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, and is a lifeline for the region’s 120,000 or so people.

At a broader regional summit hosted by Putin in Moscow, Aliyev and Pasinyan scolded each other over their stance on the land corridor. But Putin said there was agreement on “fundamental issues” and later said only “obstacles to overcome” remained, calling them differences in terminology and “strictly technical”. He said representatives of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan would meet within a week to try to resolve the differences.

According to Russian state news agency Tass, Pasinyan said last Wednesday that Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other’s territorial integrity within Soviet administrative borders. He added that Passinyan said on Monday that the territory of Azerbaijan that his government is ready to recognize includes Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Pashinyan said on Thursday: “I want to confirm that Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity, and based on this, we can say that we are moving quite well towards the settlement of our relations.”

Aliyev, for his part, said on Thursday that the Armenian leader’s statements would ensure that “the matter of agreeing on other points of the peace treaty will go much easier, because this was the main factor on which we could not agree.”

Putin told the leaders that the most important sign of progress was “agreement on the fundamental issue of territorial integrity.” He added: “And in fact, this is the basis for us to agree on other issues of a secondary nature.”

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed more than 6,000 people. The war ended in a Russian-brokered truce in which Armenia relinquished territory surrounding the region. Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan, but ethnic Armenian forces supported by Armenia have controlled the region and surrounding areas since 1994.

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The agreement to end the war left the Lachin Corridor as the only authorized link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Russia sent a 2,000-strong peacekeeping force to maintain order, including keeping the Lachin Corridor road open. However, last December, self-proclaimed environmental activists from the Azeris began blocking the road, saying they were protesting illegitimate mining by Armenians. Armenia claims that Azerbaijan organized the protests.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly claimed that the Armenians used the Lachin Corridor to bring weapons and ammunition into Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of the terms of the ceasefire.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/putin-reports-progress-talks-armenia-azerbaijan-technical-issues-99614680