‘Status of Karabakh will be Determined Based on ‘Inter-Ethnic Unity,’ Says Russian Foreign Minister
The status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be determined after establishing the rights of all categories of the region’s population, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during an online press conference on Thursday, reported News.ru.
The agreement to end war in Karabakh, signed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on Monday did not specify mechanism to establish the status of Karabakh, which had been one of the key elements of the peace negotiations headed by the OSCE Minks Group co-chairmen.
Several days after the agreement, the Russian Foreign Minister is pointing to a return of Soviet status, where Azerbaijani and Armenian lived in Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.
“We are moving forward with the assumption that the status will be determined depending on what actions we must take to restore inter-ethnic harmony in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Lavrov noted.
“Now the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is the main topic of the political process, since the process of restoring Azerbaijan’s control over five and then two more regions is already underway. It is creating temporary administrations and will restore peaceful life,” Lavrov said.
According to the minister, Moscow does not set “artificial deadlines” on this issue. He noted that previous agreements on this territory lasted for many years until the war broke out during the USSR collapse, referring to the status given Karabakh during the Soviet times, with borders drawn by communist despot Josef Stalin.
“This is very difficult to do, and we do not set any artificial deadlines for determining the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. We already see that Azerbaijani refugees will have the opportunity to return to the south of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the Shushi region, we will provide calm in this area,” said Lavrov.
“The status can be determined only after it becomes clear what rights will be granted to all those who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh and have the right to return there, and, of course, those who continued to be in this territory all the time,” Lavrov stressed.
While Pashinyan said Thursday that the issue of the Karabakh status is still under negotiations, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu to news.ru that Azerbaijan considers that the Karabakh conflict already been resolved.
According to Lavrov, it is essential to ensure respect for the rights of all ethnic and religious groups in the region.
“All refugees and displaced persons have the right to return to Karabakh and restore their cultural and religious heritage. The situation with numerous houses of worship—cathedrals and mosques—many of which are in deplorable conditions, is yet to be considered. This, by the way, also applies to religious sites in other parts of the region. The Armenian side has repeatedly raised the issue of the fate of Christian churches in Nakhichevan,” he said.
Moscow will involve UNESCO in preserving the cultural heritage in Nagorno Karabakh, said Lavrov.
“We, of course, will involve UNESCO in restoring these symbols of cultural heritage, to ensure respect for them,” Lavrov said.