Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Jan. 15, 2018
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Jan. 15, 2018

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that it was time for “additional steps to be taken to make things calmer on the Line of Contact” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Lavrov’s comment was made in apparent reference to the long-anticipated expansion of the international monitoring mission in Karabakh and came in response to a question during his January 15 press conference.

Foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet on January 18 in Krakow, Poland to discuss the cease-fire strengthening measures that had been previously agreed in May 2016. Currently, the OSCE monitoring mission has a staff of six who visit the Line of Contact twice a month.

Lavrov suggested that cease-fire stabilization “would help move towards political settlement.” He cautioned, however, that “this [Karabakh] problem cannot be resolved in one document and once and for all” and that a “step-by-step approach was needed that would lead towards a final agreement, including the status of Nagorno Karabakh.”

The Russian foreign minister, whom Azerbaijani state-controlled media attacked last year as biased in favor of Armenia, also praised the state of Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan.

“We are very satisfied with our strategic partnership,” he said.

UPDATE 1/18/2018: Following the foreign ministers’ meeting in Krakow, Poland, the OSCE Co-chairs issued a statement saying, in part, that the “Foreign Ministers agreed in principle to the Co-Chairs’ revised concept paper for implementing the expansion of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office with a view toward finalizing it as soon as possible.”