Are Azerbaijan and Russia allies? Opinion from Baku
A meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Russia was held in Moscow during which the parties discussed various issues on their mutual agenda, among which was resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Recent events in the region and Sergey Lavrov’s statements in Moscow demonstrate that, in fact, Azerbaijan and Russia are not allies, experts at the Azerbaijani analytical center “Atlas” say.
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Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov arrived in Moscow on December 5 to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Before the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement containing the following sentence: “Azerbaijan is an important partner and ally of Russia in the South Caucasus and the Caspian region.”
Are Azerbaijan and Russia allies? The Azerbaijani analytical center “Atlas” published its opinion on the matter:
Actions of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh
“If Russia is an “ally” of Azerbaijan, then why does it not disarm Armenian separatists in Karabakh? The Russian military contingent in Karabakh, on the contrary, is expanding cooperation with Armenian separatists.
On the other hand, the Russian Defense Ministry referring to settlements in Karabakh with Armenian names has caused great discontent in Azerbaijan.
Russia has created conditions for foreign citizens to travel along the road connecting Armenia with Karabakh, contrary to the laws of Azerbaijan. Iranian intelligence pass through the territory of Armenia to Karabakh, for which Russian military personnel have created the conditions.
Russian soldiers in Karabakh think that Karabakh does not belong to Azerbaijan, as evinced by answers given to Azerbaijani journalists by Russian military serving on the road connecting Karabakh with Armenia.
The “Z” sign on the camouflage and military equipment of Russian servicemen in Karabakh is used in the occupation war in Ukraine. The use of the same sign in Karabakh caused discontent in the Azerbaijani society. Meanwhile, the public in Azerbaijan has a negative attitude towards Russia’s war of occupation in Ukraine.
From all this we can conclude that the expression “Russia is an ally of Azerbaijan” does not correspond to reality,” Azerbaijani experts say.
About joint projects in the region
Atlas emphasizes that “despite this, due to various reasons official Baku and Moscow are forced to discuss different issues”:
“After the meeting between Bayramov and Lavrov on December 5, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a plan of meetings between the foreign ministries of the two countries for 2023-2024.
Baku welcomes the participation of Russian companies in the restoration of territories liberated from occupation, Jeyhun Bayramov said at a press conference following the meeting. This year the liberated territories were visited by business delegations from Russia.
The project of the transnational route “North-South” was also discussed. Bayramov stressed that although this project has great potential, the growing tension between Azerbaijan and Iran raises questions about the implementation of the project. If there is political tension between two countries it becomes more difficult for them to participate in joint projects. For this reason Iranian officials have recently been expressing thoughts about having the North-South route pass through the territory of Armenia. But this is an almost impossible task; it takes billions of dollars and a lot of time to build roads through Armenia, but in Azerbaijan they are ready. For real work on the North-South project, it will be necessary to wait for the easing of tension between Azerbaijan and Iran. This is also an obstacle to organizing a meeting in the 3 + 3 format that Lavrov mentioned.”
On the latest developments in the Lachin corridor
“But still, the main issue that was discussed at the meeting between Bayramov and Lavrov was ensuring peace in the region.
Lavrov mentioned the appeal of some Azerbaijani government agencies to the peacekeeping contingent over the environmental situation in the territory where the Russian contingent is deployed. With a high degree of probability, it can be assumed that discussion of this issue was proposed by Jeyhun Bayramov, because Azerbaijan should now begin to control the road from Karabakh to Armenia, as well as the settlements where Armenians live, and Russian military personnel should not interfere with this process. Lavrov expressed his attitude to this issue in such a way that the Azerbaijani state structures are working in Karabakh together with peacekeepers, and allegedly Russian military personnel are actively involved in this.
If Russia were really an ally of Azerbaijan, the answer would have to be: “Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan is authorized to conduct an investigation in this territory and the Russian military personnel will cooperate with them.”
And Bayramov’s statement at a press conference: “Azerbaijan guarantees Karabakh Armenians equal rights with other citizens of the country” was another message to Lavrov that official Baku will not grant any status to the region and does not intend to discuss this issue with anyone,” the publication reads.
Alma-Ata agreements and their discrepancies
“Sergey Lavrov stressed that the agreement of the parties to settle the border issue on the basis of the Alma-Ata agreements simplifies the task, to which Bayramov replied that perhaps before the end of the year a third round of negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the preparation of a peace treaty would take place, and the Alma-Ata agreements serve as a good basis for this process.
This also means that by the end of 2022, there is a high probability of another meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan. If the Prime Minister of Armenia refuses his offer to participate in the talks with Emmanuel Macron, then a trilateral meeting mediated by Charles Michel in Brussels could take place.
Official Baku is not against discussions based on the Alma-Ata agreements, the only problem is that Armenian politicians are trying to interpret these agreements in their own way. In their opinion, the documents on the recognition of borders, signed in Alma-Ata, do not interfere with the “independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.” However, Baku demands that a clause on a resolution of the conflict on the basis of the UN Charter be included in the peace treaty. This condition fully corresponds to the interests of Azerbaijan and neutralizes discrepancies,” Azerbaijani experts concluded.