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    Russian officials visiting Armenia, Karabakh conflict can’t pass talks barrier - COMMENT

    Rex Tilerson’s phone call to Edward Nalbandian can be considered as a try to remind of themselves

    Baku. 8 March. REPORT.AZ/ Two high level Russian officials traveled to Armenia in last three days.

    The Chairman of Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin visited Erevan in early March. In meeting with chairman of Armenian parliament Galust Saakyan he told that official Moscow always keeps settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under its control: “You are aware of Russia’s attention to the process within frame of Wien and Saint Petersburg agreements”. According to him, significant effort has been put for best possible resolution of conflict and elimination of tension in the region.

    Secretary of Security Council of Russian Federation (RF) Nikolay Patrushev has visited Armenia on March 6. Reportedly he held discussions on security issues between two countries in Erevan.

    Vyacheslav Volodin

    N.Patrushev is one of “heavyweight” figures of Russia. In this sense we can expect more serious implications of this visit.

    Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan will visit France on March 8 and Russia on March 14 to meet with presidents François Hollande and Vladimir Putin.

    It is not excluded that in Paris and Moscow Sargsyan will discuss conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region occupied by Armenia. Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandyan on February 22 met with his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Before meeting the foreign ministers attended exhibition dedicated to 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Armenia. By the way, last year E.Nalbandian and S.Lavrov had 20 meetings during last year. In all meetings foreign ministers discussed settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

    Nikolay Patrushev

    Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on March 6. Settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed at the meeting.

    After meeting with Azerbaijani foreign minister in Moscow S.Lavrov told in press conference: “Russia will continue supporting the process of seeking proper ways of settlement for parties of the conflict within different formats. We need progress in settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.

    E.Mammadyarov told that Armenian troops must certainly be withdrawn from occupied territories of Azerbaijan. He noted that rhetoric used by Armenian side doesn’t ‘t conform with steps towards peace.

    "We talked about settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia will continue seeking acceptable solutions through bilateral relations with Baku and Erevan as well as within the framework of trilateral meetings format - Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia", said S. Lavrov.

    According to him, Russia takes all possible steps in line with basic approaches made jointly with other Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - United States and France. Russian Foreign Minister expressed his satisfaction with the talks.

    Official Washington also demonstrated that they don’t stay indifferent to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told in phone talk with Armenian foreign minister E.Nalbandian: “US will continue to provide active support to peaceful resolution of the conflict”.

    US is a co-chair of and international mediator within OSCE Minsk group established for peaceful resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But the fact that he called only Armenian foreign minister can hardly be considered positively. This violates principle of impartiality and balance of mediator mission…

    Rex Tillerson

    But let’s leave this issue behind for now and focus on visits of Russian officials to Armenia.

    None in Russia rejects the fact that Armenia is their outpost and Armenian officials have nothing against this situation. But election campaign for Armenian parliament will start in one month. New government form to be introduced in Armenia in accordance with constitution marks importance of political views of upcoming government members for Moscow.

    It is not secret that prime minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan is supported by Russian “Gazprom” company. His governance seems the best option for Russia after elections. Latest opinion poll also shows 81% of population are satisfied with his performance.

    However, some groups in Armenia as well as Serzh Sargsyan seem discontent with this situation. Supposedly Sargsyan doesn’t want to give up his desire to keep power as prime minister within new constitution. This can fire new protests in the country. Rising protests are not desirable for those who want to keep Armenia under control.

    They are cautious that the situation may get out of control as a result of unrest. In other words, Russia’s influence in Caucasus may weaken if it loses control over Armenia.

    Serzh Sargsyan, Karen Karapetyan

    That’s why the reason behind visit of leading Russian officials like Volodin and Patrushev is apparent, especially if to take into account that the first once headed administration of Russian president, the latter Federal Security Service. Taking into consideration their current and past occupations casts light on above mentioned issues.

    “Heavy artillery” of Russian politics visit Erevan on the eve of presidential and parliamentary elections. Russian defense minister Sergey Shoygu during one of his visit to Erevan in one of past years clearly stated their support to election of Serzh Sargsyan for second term as president.

    Therefore, we can conclude that visits of Russian officials are aiming at determining results of parliamentary elections in Armenia.

    It means that political course of post-election Armenian government rather depends on Russia than on US. Rex Tilerson’s phone call to Edward Nalbandian can be considered as a try to remind of themselves in the context of current developments.

    Actually, none of Russia, US and France seem to be interested in liberation of occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The main thesis of their statements is ‘peaceful resolution of conflict, continuation of ceasefire, de-escalation of tension’. Without any doubt, Azerbaijan agrees with this thesis. But this doesn’t support liberation of Azerbaijani lands from occupation.

    In such circumstances Azerbaijan may consider its right to use other ways for liberation of lands and restoration of territorial integrity.

    That’s why last statements of US and Russian officials have no effect in terms of ending occupation.

    Thus, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict cannot pass through the barrier of negotiations for long years.

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