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YEREVAN — Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan dismissed Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov’s criticism of canceled talks with Azerbaijan, insisting the Russian side was properly informed of his request to “postpone” a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers earlier this week.

Armenia’s foreign ministry said on December 22 that Mirzoyan had “postponed” talks with Lavrov and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, scheduled for December 23, because his top priority was now to help reopen the area known as the Lachin Corridor.

The only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia was blocked on December 12 by a group of Azerbaijani protesters demanding that Baku be allowed to inspect Karabakh’s mineral mines, drawing attention to what Azerbaijan says is illegal mining in Nagorno-Karabakh and use of the road to transport minerals in Armenia.

Authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert condemned the blockade as a gross violation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement that placed the Lachin Corridor under the control of Russian peacekeepers.

At a joint press conference with Bajramov in Moscow on December 23, Lavrov expressed his “surprise” at the fact that they learned about Armenia’s refusal to come to the talks from the press service of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“No diplomatic channels, which are usually used in such cases, were used,” he said, adding that “this method of the Armenian side raises questions.”

Lavrov said Russian peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin Corridor under the terms of the 2020 ceasefire are “working literally around the clock to resolve the situation.”

“Such incidents, which are inevitable in any conflict and which, of course, should be considered and resolved immediately, will last longer if one of the parties abandons the agreed rounds of negotiations after each such incident.” This has never benefited anyone,” the senior Russian diplomat added.

In an interview for the Armenian service of RSE/RL On December 24, Mirzoyan expressed his surprise at the reaction of the Russian side.

“I also express surprise at the surprise of my respected colleague Sergey Lavrov,” Mirzoyan said.

“Taking into account the humanitarian crisis caused by the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan, the request of the Armenian side to postpone the meeting between me and the foreign ministers of Russia and Azerbaijan scheduled in Moscow was forwarded by the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Armenia in Russia and representatives of the Central apparatus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Armenia,” Mirzoyan said.

“Otherwise, it is inexplicable how the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs could announce in its press release that the Armenian side would not go to Moscow much earlier than the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have had time to announce it and the reasons for it,” he added.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Lavrov, Azerbaijani Bajramov accused Armenia of failing to honor its commitment to hand over eight villages that were once Azerbaijani enclaves on the territory of Soviet Armenia to Azerbaijan.

However, the nine-point document signed by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on ending the 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020 does not contain any references to such a commitment, Mirzoyan said.

“As we have said many times, the Armenian side did not undertake such an obligation either within the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, or in any other way. There is no other agreement than the one written, signed and published,” Mirzoyan said.

“We believe that by talking about such fictitious agreements, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan is trying to justify the continuous and gross violation of the provisions of the statement of November 9, 2020 by his country.”

“At the same time, I consider it necessary to recall that Armenia has repeatedly proposed the withdrawal of troops and the deployment of the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan along the administrative border between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republics,” said Yermen. concluded the minister.

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of seizing tens of square kilometers of sovereign Armenian territory in a series of incursions since May 2021. Azerbaijan denies the accusations.

Nearly 300 soldiers were killed on both sides in two days of border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September, which turned out to be the deadliest Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting since the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war that claimed nearly 7,000 lives.

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