The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made interesting statements during the press conference with his Armenian counterpart, commenting on the question about the participation of Artsakh in the negotiations. In particular, he said Artsakh used to be a participant to the talks but “at a certain point one of the leaders of Armenia” made a decision that Armenia must represent Artsakh.
Apparently, he meant the second president Robert Kocharyan. In fact, the Russian foreign minister highlights that Robert Kocharyan is responsible for the decision of leaving out Artsakh from the talks.
Will the second president agree or disagree with the Russian foreign minister? The point is that the Russian foreign minister, though indirectly, questions the decision made by Robert Kocharyan. At least, Lavrov says that the issue of participation of Artsakh in the negotiations is to be done based on mutual agreement between the sides, and the mediators merely accept it. Formerly, Lavrov mentioned that the mediators do not make decisions on who should be a party to the talks.
In addition, the Russian foreign minister has announced that everyone realizes without Artsakh the negotiations will never be completed. Thus Lavrov implicitly supports the idea of involving Stepanakert as a subject that has been upheld by official Yerevan since the revolution.
At the same time, Lavrov spoke about the statement by the Armenian prime minister that a settlement on Artsakh should be acceptable for all the three publics. Lavrov said “it is hard to argue this”. In other words, by stating that Pashinyan’s approach is not arguable, the Russian foreign minister actually says that the decision made by “one of the leaders of Armenia” to leave Artsakh out is arguable.
At the same time, Robert Kocharyan disagreed in the past that he had left out Artsakh. Robert Kocharyan and his team have responded that Artsakh was left out of the talks back in the term of Ter-Petrosyan.
The main problem is not who had left Artsakh out. After all, the entire government of Armenia is responsible for the quarter-century negative political-diplomatic legacy over the issue of Artsakh because the three presidents continued one another, and the consequence was the constant demand to the Armenian side to give up on the territories, including the so-called Kazan plan, the latter disclosed by Serzh Sargsyan.
Currently the circumstance of returning Artsakh to the table of talks is a tactical solution for the Armenian side on the complicated path towards ridding of this 25-year-old heritage where, on the one hand, the strategic issue or, in other words, retention of the victory in Artsakh is important and, on the other hand, it is important to shed the mode of the talks over the past quarter in a way as to create no standstill for the co-chairs.
After all, they are partners and allies to the Armenian side when it comes to the escape from the quarter-century-old standstill, despite the controversies and relativity over some issues.