Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev met with Armenian leaders in Yerevan on Thursday in an attempt to reduce tensions in the ongoing dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. He visits Baku on Friday.
Dozens were killed in fighting which broke out on April 2, the worst violence since a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
Medvedev met Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan in Yerevan.
Russia maintains close relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, selling arms to both. However as an ally within the Eurasian Economic Union, Armenia buys arms at discounted rates.
In February, Russia agreed to a $200m state export loan to Armenia, for buying arms. There have been some delays carrying out the provisions of the agreement, said Abrahamyan, who asked for progress to be sped up.
Both he and Medvedev pledged their support for the ‘Minsk Group’ OSCE peace process, working to solve the Karabakh crisis. “We attach much importance to upholding the ceasefire,” Abrahamyan said.
“It is imperative to prevent the conflict from slipping into the hot phase, as it can have the most tragic implications for the region,” said Medvedev, adding that Russia is "ready to act as a mediator within the Minsk group in the future using our influence within the framework of the relevant procedures".
The Armenian prime minister blamed Azerbaijan for starting the outbreak of violence on the night of 1-2 April, and said Azerbaijan has repeatedly violated the April 5 ceasefire.
A meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, set to take place in Yerevan on April 8 with the heads of government of the six Eurasian Economic Union countries in attendance, was postponed this week after the fighting.
Abrahamyan described this postponement as “unacceptable”. In response Medvedev invited his Armenian counterpart to a meeting in Moscow, and said the next meeting of the group would be in Yerevan.
Ahead of his visit to Baku today, Medvedev spoke on the phone with his Azerbaijani counterpart Artur Rasizade. He will also meet president Ilham Aliyev.
Medvedev was a major player in the last major conflict in the Caucasus, the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, when he was a few months into his first and only term as president. He also laid a wreath at the genocide memorial in Yerevan during his visit.
SOURCE: commonspace.eu and agencies
PHOTO: Medvedev's eeting with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan (government.ru)