Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan disagree in Washington, but US Secretary of State optimistic
Armenia-Azerbaijan talks in Washington
From May 1-4 talks were held in Washington between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, mediated by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This was the longest round of negotiations between Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov. No joint statement was signed, however, with the parties limiting themselves to a joint press release:
“Ministers and their teams have made progress in mutual understanding on some articles of the draft bilateral agreement “On peace and the establishment of interstate relations”, while positions on some key issues still diverge.”
But Blinken was optimistic in his assessment:
“I hope that both ministers, like me, believe that a peace agreement is not far off, and it will provide a lasting peace for the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This peace will have a great impact not only on the life of the two peoples, but a regional and more global impact. It’s tough, but the desire to move forward is real, and as I mentioned we have made significant progress over the past few days. It seems that a final agreement is not far off, and we are determined to reach this agreement.”
Later, in an official press release from the State Department, the following addendum appeared:
“Both Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed in principle with certain conditions and better understand each other’s positions on unresolved issues. We invited ministers to return to their capitals to share with their governments the view that, with additional goodwill, flexibility and compromise, an agreement is within reach. They will continue to enjoy the full support and involvement of the United States in their efforts to secure a lasting peace.”
- Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in Washington, but what comes next?
- “The language of threats and terror does not work with Azerbaijan” – Ilham Aliyev
- Consequences of the ongoing blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh
Comments from Yerevan
Tigran Grigoryan, political scientist:
The Washington Marathon is over, I think with less than the expected results for the mediators. I am convinced that there was an expectation that at least a joint statement would be signed, but, as expected, progress on the most important issues could not be achieved:
on the Baku-Stepanakert direct talks mechanism and various views of the parties regarding it,
lack of agreement on maps and
lack of agreement on guarantees or mechanisms for the peace agreement.
Despite Secretary Blinken’s optimistic comments, I have no idea how the parties can reach agreement on these three key issues. Especially with regard to direct negotiations.”
Suren Surenyants, political scientist:
“As expected, the Washington round of Mirzoyan-Bayramov talks turned out to be ineffectual. I think that the negotiations in Washington were doomed to such an outcome for at least two reasons:
1) the Armenian-Azerbaijani institution of direct dialogue cannot work effectively, if only because there is a power imbalance between Yerevan and Baku, where Azerbaijan is trying to impose its entire agenda on Yerevan;
2) we may like or dislike Russia’s policy, but it is obvious that without the participation of Moscow it is impossible to achieve a resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Russia is not only the main moderator in the South Caucasus, a key mediator in this conflict, but also, in fact, a party and participant in this conflict, which also follows from the logic of the November 9  tripartite statement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh.
Of course, it does not follow from what has been said that the Moscow round of talks will be crowned with success. In general, it is difficult to imagine the resolution of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations without consolidated international efforts in this direction. And those cannot be in the conditions of a global conflict between Russia and the West, international chaos.
This situation, of course, creates new risks for the security of Armenia, such as the expulsion of Armenians from Artsakh.”
Ruben Mehrabyan, political scientist:
“A statement of the persistence of differences on key issues means that Aliyev is still firmly resisting, hoping that the Kremlin, after the meeting in Washington, will arrange another “St. Petersburg”, as it was after Vienna in 2016, put pressure on Yerevan, help Baku in once again slipping out from under American pressure, after which he will give another go-ahead to lawlessness in the interests of Moscow and Baku.
And this means that Yerevan MUST prevent this.
And this means leaving Moscow alone with its beloved Baku, thereby contributing to the consolidation of pressure on Baku, bringing its positions closer to Washington and Brussels.
But we are told from Prague that “a visit to Moscow is planned” [during an official visit to the Czech Republic, Pashinyan himself announced this].
Why a visit to Moscow?
I want to warn you: your incomprehensibly beloved Moscow, where you are going to go, went over your agent Serzhik [former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan] and did not spare him. Don’t think that it will spare you.
In short, you should not crawl back into this hole. Theres nothing for us there.
Meanwhile, what is called the peace agenda is a stubborn struggle for peace against the enemies of the world, and above all, against the aspirations of Moscow, which is the main enemy of the world.”
Comments from Baku
Azerbaijani MP Rasim Musabekov explained the lack of a documented agreement after the talks in America with Russian pressure on Yerevan:
“At the talks in Washington, Armenia balked at its demands and frustrated the initialing of the agreement with Azerbaijan. The continuation of negotiations in Moscow was announced. From there, the encouragement followed. The repair of the main gas pipeline in the Stavropol Territory has been completed and gas supplies to Armenia interrupted on May 1 have been restored.”
The MP also expects “an encouraging gesture from the Kremlin in the form of the beginning of the passage of Armenian trucks with agricultural products through the Lars crossing, which was stopped during the ministerial meetings in Washington.”
The mountain gave birth to a mouse. This is how Azerbaijani political scientist Farhad Mammadov summed up the talks in Washington.
“Progress… finish line… exhausted Blinken… And that’s it?! And all from the inconsistency of the position of the Americans themselves! At one time, they did not point to the occupier, did not apply sanctions against Armenia, but, on the contrary, supported it financially and politically.
There are topics on which there is no common understanding. Then Baku will take more steps to finalize it before the next meeting. The diplomatic battle will continue in Russia, it will be interesting…
The Americans need Azerbaijan to give up the enclaves… as I understand it from Pashinyan’s statement made in Prague – that’s exactly what… to help Pashinyan retain power…
And the Karabakh Armenians will remain in limbo…” he added.
Former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov noted that the negotiations were difficult.
“At best, they could sign some text. Because, logically, after the meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, the heads of state should meet to sign the prepared document. After such a long meeting, a meeting of the leaders of the countries is expected. It is sensed that the United States intends to put a political end to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, because the Americans put on the negotiating table the question of a fundamental solution to the problems of the post-conflict period.”