Are Yerevan and Baku about to sign new agreements? Rumors, statements and denials
Expert on Karabakh conflict Tatul Hakobyan on his Facebook page announced the possible signing of agreements by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the demarcation and delimitation of borders, as well as unblocking communications in the region. This message was also published by local Armenian media outlets, and caused a wide resonance in Armenia, where the majority consider it unacceptable to sign any document with Azerbaijan at this stage.
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Rumor has it that the signing of documents will occur on November 9, that is, on the day of the anniversary of the end of the second Karabakh war. More precisely, this is the day when the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a statement on the cessation of hostilities, which was perceived in Armenia a year ago as a “shameful document of surrender”.
What Tatul Hakobyan reports about the possible signing of new trilateral agreements, what they say in Baku, a statement from Moscow, as well as comments from experts from Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Reports from Yerevan
Information from “reliable diplomatic sources”
Tatul Hakobyan’s message stated that “from reliable diplomatic sources” it became known about the meeting of the heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow:
“Both documents, the work on which is almost completed, will be signed by Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev with the mediation and participation of Vladimir Putin, if no force majeure situations arise at the last moment. The first document concerns the demarcation and delimitation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border.
The second document is about unblocking communications in the region, in particular, the creation of corridor roads, including the details of establishing communications between Azerbaijan and [its exclave] Nakhichevan”.
It was also said that “Yerevan and Baku recognize each other’s borders and territorial integrity on the basis of maps of the General Staff of the USSR Ministry of Defense of the 1920s”, which Vladimir Putin mentioned on October 22, not by chance.
This news was also circulated by other media outlets in Armenia and was actively disseminated on social media.
The situation became so aggravated that Tatul Hakobyan published the second message on the social media, again insisting that the source of information is reliable, moreover, it is Armenian. The journalist wrote that many people asked him questions, including close friends, so he decided to answer all of them at once.
“We don’t have drafts, or draft-versions of documents, otherwise we would have published them.
Is it possible that these documents will not be signed? God forbid, although after this defeat God no longer helps us.
Is Pashinyan’s resignation possible? Too late for that, but better late than never.
What maps are we talking about? The maps dating back to 1927-1928 and not only.
To be continued … “, promised the journalist.
Reports from Moscow
Then the Armenian media, including Aliq Media, reprinted the information released by there Russian agency “RIA Novosti”, which, according to the press secretary of the Russian president, stated: “If an agreement on holding the summit of the Russian Federation-Armenia-Azerbaijan is reached, the Kremlin will inform of it in a timely manner”.
So Dmitry Peskov answered the question, “is it really planned to hold a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the first ten days of November in Moscow”.
This publication did not dispel the rumors that had flared up in Armenia, but only fueled them further. Moreover, in the same publication, the Russian agency reported:
“Earlier, a source familiar with the situation told RIA Novosti that a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia […] could take place in Moscow in the first decade of November, and the parties are expected to sign trilateral statements”.
“No meeting is planned”
After that, the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry Vahan Hunanyan denied the information about the signing of the Armenian-Azerbaijani joint documents. He assured that at present no meeting of the Armenian Prime Minister with the President of Azerbaijan is planned, although “proposals for different meetings in different formats” are being discussed.
He also stated that the rumors that are spreading on this topic in Armenia “are provocative and do not correspond to reality”:
“To understand the situation, I would recommend studying the news, allegations and ‘revelations’ that preceded the trilateral meeting in Moscow on January 11, 2021, familiarizing yourself with the results and content of the meeting, and then analyzing whether the messages spread before the meeting were true”.
At the same time, the press secretary recalled that
- Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly stated Armenia’s readiness to resume high-level talks on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship;
- according to a statement dated January 11, 2021, Armenia is participating in trilateral discussions on unblocking transport communications in the region;
- since May 2021, the withdrawal of Azerbaijani Armed Forces units that have entered the territory of Armenia and the idea of starting the process of demarcation and delimitation of the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been discussed in a trilateral format.
According to Hunanyan, two other OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs – the United States and France, as well as the European Union, expressed their readiness to provide advice on the delimitation and demarcation of borders, as well as unblocking regional communications.
Commentary from Yerevan
Head of Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardyan wrote on his Facebook page:
“If the news about the signing of the Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements on November 9 through the mediation of Russia is true, then their content will largely depend on the levers of influence on Moscow that Baku and Yerevan have.
Baku clearly has such levers, especially taking into account the Ankara factor. And Yerevan, even if it has [levers], apparently cannot use them effectively. This is evidenced by the choice of the signing date, which was undoubtedly set on the initiative of Baku [since this is the day of victory for Baku].
In this sense, stormy discussions about the use of some kind of maps in the course of demarcation (let’s leave aside the topic of unblocking communications for now) are meaningless and form an artificial agenda.
By and large, the maps of different periods stored in the archives do not play a significant role. Azerbaijan presented its territorial demands to the Russian leadership, it is possible to some extent moderate Baku’s appetites, but nevertheless expect their satisfaction. The corresponding maps, which will formally be placed in the basis of the agreements, will undoubtedly be found in the Russian General Staff.
The question arises whether the Armenian leadership should agree, or rather, should it agree with the option imposed on us? I do not know … Since I am not aware of how much the alternative possibilities were explored, I am not sure whether there is diplomatic or other potential to use these opportunities, as well as political will. And before our eyes are the risks of non-signing. The worst thing is that nothing depends on those who see the ways how to avoid this sad reality, at least for the events expected on November 9, 2021 (if the information disseminated is confirmed)”.
Commentary from Baku
Political observer Agshin Kerimov, specifically for JAMnews, commented on the news about the upcoming meeting of the heads of the three states, as well as the events that preceded the dissemination of this information:
“What has been said about the date and place of the meeting is still at the level of rumors, but there is no doubt about the officiality of the information. The fact is that the news of the meeting was also published by the RIA Novosti news agency, which is close to the Russian authorities.
The information so far expresses conceptual views on the documents, the signing of which is expected, and in order to predict something, it is necessary to pay attention to some points.
Prior to that, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed, as a recipe for resolving the issue of the border between the parties, maps from the times of the USSR. But he also added that this can only be realized with mutual compromises.
But even then, some reciprocal compromise steps have already been taken. One might think that without securing a reliable guarantee for new concessions from Yerevan, Baku would not have returned five of the detained Armenian servicemen. Armenia has not yet disclosed its concessions, but some of the disseminated information and statements from Armenia regarding this news make them obvious.
The trilateral meeting was expected, but it is difficult to imagine what the counter-compromises of the parties would be.
If the meeting
If the meeting still takes place, an agreement will be reached there on the development of a “road map” based on these compromises.
So far, questions remain open regarding the seven villages of the Gazakh region of Azerbaijan and the village of Kyarki of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, which remain under occupation. But there is reason to believe that Ilham Aliyev will raise these issues at the negotiating table.
Armenia is forced to make concessions, but Baku must reciprocate. at the moment, the arrested Armenian servicemen are the strongest trump card in the hands of Baku.
Armenia does not have such trump cards, if earlier they mentioned some kind of status in Karabakh, lately official statements on this have begun to decline.
In fact, the facts of violation of the ceasefire in the Lachin, Kelbajar and Nakhichevan sections of the border since May 2021 were nothing more than the implementation of acts added to the factors ensuring the superiority of Baku.
To enforce peace, Azerbaijan positioned itself at strategic points and heights, and it is natural that the enemy had to respond to this at least at the level of instinct. But over time, these instincts from the Armenian army disappeared.
In short, Azerbaijan is making a meeting from a position of strength, but it is difficult to determine the scenario of Baku’s promising concessions for Yerevan.
Perhaps these trade-offs will cover economic issues. One cannot assume the presence of seven villages in the Gazakh region and the village of Kyarki in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic among the compromises. It is quite possible that at this meeting the issue of these villages will not be included with an official statement, but it is quite possible that agreements on quiet issues will be reached orally behind closed doors.
I consider the main issue to be the delimitation and demarcation of borders, and at what point this process will end, because this is a complex procedure.
The return of five Armenian saboteurs [in Armenia they are called prisoners of war – JAMnews], as well as the dissemination of information about the surrender to the Azerbaijani side of the height in Mount Aghdag [in Armenia, the mountain is called Pela – JAMnews] on the territory of the Kapan region of Armenia, plus Putin’s statement against this background draws attention.
Putin said that Azerbaijan and Armenia could decide to define borders based on Soviet-era maps, but this process requires mutual concessions. We are already seeing some concessions from the parties, and others are expected in the coming days. But it is difficult to predict what exactly.
From the very beginning, Russia took the lead on the border issue, and the Kremlin did not object to the strengthening of Azerbaijan’s positions at strategic points on the border with Armenia. There was an agreement on this issue with Turkey too, there is no need to even doubt it.
But the West also wanted to contribute to the issue of defining borders, and the reason for this was the desire to somehow neutralize the influence of Russia.
Speaking from this context, Putin sent a message to the West in his statement, which is impossible not to notice:
“Here, of course, nothing can be done without the participation of Russia. Perhaps we do not need anyone, except for the two sides and Russia. There are very simple and pragmatic things: yes, because there are maps in the General Staff of the Russian army, which show how the borders of the union republics passed during the Soviet period”.
Putin’s statement once again points to global rivalry over the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This rivalry is primarily aimed at ensuring the interests of international forces with a peace treaty”.