We had proposed a settlement option in which Karabakh as well as the Kelbajar and Lachin regions would remain under the jurisdiction of Armenia. This was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.
Answering the question about “Armenia’s turnaround,” the Russian leader said as follows: “I don’t think there is any turnaround. We see and understand what is happening. There is a lot to say about this. We proposed our settlement options, this is known. Armenia controlled seven regions, which it kept under its control after the well-known Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
“We proposed to reach an agreement with Azerbaijan so that the two regions—Kelbajar and Lachin—as well as the whole of Karabakh would actually remain under the jurisdiction of Armenia. But the leadership of Armenia did not agree with this—although we were trying to convince the leadership of Armenia for 10 or 15 years. Various options, but in the end it all came down to this.
“To our question, ‘what are you going to do?’ they used to answer us: ‘we will fight.’ In the end, everything came to the situation that has been formed now. But it is not only about the results of the last conflict. The thing is that the leadership of Armenia basically recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh. And in their statement in Prague, they simply recorded it on paper.
“Now [Azerbaijani] President Aliyev tells me: ‘you know that Armenia has recognized Karabakh as ours, that the question of the status of Karabakh no longer exists, it has been resolved.’ The leadership of Armenia has publicly announced this, considering the entire territory that existed before 1991 within the framework of the Azerbaijan SSR and noting the number of the territory, which also includes the territory of Karabakh. This happened and it was not our decision. This is the decision of today’s leadership of Armenia. And if it is so, they tell us, ‘now you should solve all the issues with us on a bilateral basis if you want to do something about the Karabakh issue.’ And what can we say? There is nothing to say here if Armenia itself has recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
“Of course, other issues arise here: issues related to the humanitarian component and the mandate of our peacekeepers [in Nagorno-Karabakh]; that is so. The mandate is still in force, and the issues of humanitarian nature, prevention of ethnic cleansing, of course, have not disappeared; I fully agree with this. I hope that the leadership of Azerbaijan, as they have always told us and are telling us, is not interested in any kind of ethnic cleansing [in Nagorno-Karabakh]; moreover, [that] they are interested in the process going smoothly.”
And when asked about Armenia’s complaints towards Russia and the CSTO and on their non-provision of assistance to Armenia, Putin said: “The key component of the whole problem, the status of Karabakh, was decided by Armenia itself; that’s the whole problem.”