"Aliyev is trying to show that he decides the format of negotiations." Opinion from Yerevan
Aliyev’s statements and Yerevan’s reaction
“Aliyev is trying to present himself as macho, trying to show Macron and his own society that he decides in what format the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations will be held,” political scientist Tigran Grigoryan believes.
Speaking at a conference in Baku, the President of Azerbaijan said that a meeting scheduled for December 7 with the Prime Minister of Armenia through the mediation of the European Union will not take place. According to Ilham Aliyev, the reason is that Nikol Pashinyan insists on the participation of the President of France.
The press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Vahan Hunanyan, stressed that Armenia is ready for the meeting on December 7, but in accordance with the preliminary “agreement and format reached in Prague,” which implies the participation of Macron.
Aliyev: “This is an attempt to disrupt peace talks”
Answering questions of foreign guests at the international conference, Ilham Aliyev said that the meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia planned to be held in Brussels will not take place:
“Yesterday Hikmet Hajiyev [Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan] informed me that he had been contacted by the office of [the head of the European Council] Charles Michel and informed that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to the meeting only if French President Macron participated therein. This means that this meeting will not take place.”
He regards Pashinyan’s position as “an attempt to derail the peace talks” and declared that France’s participation in the peace process “contradicts the interests of Azerbaijan.” Aliyev recalled the French president’s criticism of Azerbaijan in an interview, as well as the “anti-Azerbaijani resolutions” adopted by the two chambers of the French Parliament and participants of the Francophonie summit.
“Given all this, it is clear that France cannot take part in the peace process. And this is not ours, but their fault, since neither the United States nor Russia has ever officially taken sides,” Aliyev said.
Armenia is ready to meet in the “Prague format”
In response to Aliyev’s statements, the Armenian Foreign Ministry recalled that the previous meeting organized in Prague, where an agreement was reached to continue the meetings, was held with four participants.
“It is logical that the format of the meeting and the composition of the participants should be the same. All statements by the Azerbaijani side that Armenia is trying to disrupt the meeting and the peace process have nothing to do with reality. The Republic of Armenia is ready for the meeting on December 7 in accordance with the agreement and format reached in Prague,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanyan said.
According to political scientist Tigran Grigoryan, by such statements the President of Azerbaijan is trying to show that he dictates the format of the negotiation process with Armenia.
In the current situation, Grigoryan sees a danger for Armenia in that Azerbaijan is trying to accuse Yerevan of abandoning the Western format of negotiations:
“For example, Baku propagandists say that Yerevan, knowing that Aliyev would refuse a meeting mediated by Macron, placed special emphasis on Macron’s participation so that the next meetings would be mediated by Russia.”
Grigoryan says that “frivolous statements” are found in Western expert circles, so the Armenian Foreign Ministry and other government agencies need to clearly explain Yerevan’s position on this issue.
Speaking of the recent resolutions adopted in the French Senate at the Francophonie summit, Grigoryan said that the President of Azerbaijan is using them as a pretext for refusing to negotiate.
According to Grigoryan, the presence of the West in the region is still only diplomatic and economic in nature:
“It is undeniable that the Western presence in our region is not yet at the level to ensure the continuity of some [political] processes or overall stability in the region.”
Grigoryan considers it obvious that the failure of the meeting in Brussels is in Russia’s interest, since Moscow is trying to “keep all the processes of the Armenian-Azerbaijani context under various regional umbrellas, be it Russian or Russian-Turkish.”
“Russia is not only ready, but also emphasizes its readiness to help both countries in resolving the situation and signing a peace treaty,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after Aliyev’s speech. But according to him, Moscow does not intend to organize an Armenian-Azerbaijani meeting anytime soon.
According to Grigoryan, at this stage Russia is more interested in issues related to the unblocking of regional roads, e.g. the road connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, its exclave.
“Russia will try to move ahead with this agenda in the near future and achieve certain results,” Grigoryan believes.
Aliyev’s statements and Yerevan’s reaction