Russia plans to achieve better mutual understanding with Azerbaijan on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, establishing a multilateral security mechanism in the Caspian Sea and the Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation, Russian Foreign Ministry official Andrei Nesterenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
The negotiations to be held during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Baku on March 11-12 will pay particular attention to the Caspian affairs as part of preparation for the Third Caspian Summit, Nesterenko said.
Nesterenko emphasized that on the backdrop of the global financial crisis Russia attaches great importance to maintaining a high level of economic cooperation with Azerbaijan.
"In this regard, we are looking forward to the effective operation of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation and to implementation of major joint projects, including those in the energy sphere," he said.
"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be certainly also discussed. Signing of a tripartite declaration by the Presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in Moscow on Nov. 2, 2008, opened new possibilities in this area," Nesterenko said.
Nesterenko said that Russia welcomes continuation of intensive negotiations on the Karabakh settlement and will contribute to the process as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.
"Our principled stand remains unchanged. We believe that the main responsibility for the final selection of the settlement formula lies on the Azerbaijanis and Armenians," he said.
Russia would be willing to support a solution which satisfies the parties involved and is ready to act as a guarantor of the settlement if the parties achieve a compromise agreement, he said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.