A meeting in Moscow with senior officials on both sides in the Nagorno-Karabakh ‘frozen conflict’ of the Soviet Union seems to have produced some results towards lessening tensions in the war-torn region.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Azerbaijani and Armenian top diplomats Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan held a meeting in Moscow, which also involved Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and agreed to give families access to prisoners and boost exchanges in the field of media.
Both sides managed to achieve some positive changes in Moscow. Following three-hour talks, the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to ensure stability along the line of contact “during the farming season” and “to take mutual measures to provide families with access to prisoners.” This issue is important for both parties. A source in the Armenian Foreign Ministry indicated that both Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were ready to allow families to meet with Azerbaijani prisoners.
Mutual visits by media workers were also discussed. When asked by Kommersant if Baku was ready to receive Armenian journalists, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leila Abdullayeva said yes.
According to Ilgar Velizade, the head of the “South Caucasus” Baku Club of Political Scientists, the agreements reached in Moscow point out that the parties are willing to de-escalate the conflict though it is almost impossible to take serious political steps. “The humanitarian field is the only area where specific steps may be taken. In addition, it creates a good atmosphere for enhancing the negotiation process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director of the Yerevan-based Institute of Caucasus Alexander Iskandaryan seems less optimistic. “I am not sure at all that these agreements will be implemented. Besides, I don’t think such small steps may lead to a breakthrough in resolving the Karabakh issue,” he emphasized.
Russia has a military base in Armenia and considers the former Soviet republic an ally. Russia also sells weaponry to both sides in the conflict. The change in government in Armenia after the recent civil unrest saw Nikol Pashinyan take power and make conciliatory remarks to the Kremlin. However, the Untied States has also reached out to Armenia to improve relations.
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