The end of the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region paves the way for improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations, Russia’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Speaking at the New Knowledge Forum in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov said Ankara and Yerevan should resume efforts towards normalization after Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan signed an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh last year.
“The parties saw the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue differently. But now, when the war in Nagorno-Karabakh is over, there are grounds for unblocking the political process, transport, and economic ties, it would be logical if Armenia and Turkey resumed efforts to normalize relations,” the minister said.
Russia is ready to actively support this process, he added.
On Thursday Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said Russia always supported the normalization of Armenian-Turkish ties and has in the past participated in mediation efforts towards this end.
She noted that Russia welcomed the signing of the Zurich Protocols in 2009, which suggested a gradual improvement in relations between Armenia and Turkey without preliminary conditions.
“Along with the normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations in the context of the implementation of the statements signed by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia on November 9, 2020, and January 11 this year, this (normalization between Armenia and Turkey) would work for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region,” she said.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.
On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on the Karabakh issue.
The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.
Prior to this victory, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal occupation for nearly 30 years.