Armenian Foreign Ministry, experts assess trilateral Sochi declaration
Trilateral Armenian-Azerbaijani-Russian Sochi Declaration
The Armenian Foreign Ministry made an assessment of the provisions of the Sochi Declaration adopted by the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The spokesman for the Armenian department stressed that the document confirms the commitment of the parties to fulfill all previous agreements. This also applies to Azerbaijan’s unfulfilled obligation to return the Armenian prisoners of war.
Experts in Armenia are also discussing the points of the document signed by the heads of the three countries. Local political scientists see positive dynamics in the negotiation process. In particular, on the issue of the Armenians held in Baku, the settlement of the Karabakh problem and the possibility of involving international partners in the negotiation process.
Statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry, as well as the opinion of experts on the provisions of the Sochi document.
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Vahan Hunanyan, press secretary of the ministry, pointed to the clauses of the Sochi declaration which are most important for Armenia:
“First, with the Sochi Declaration, the parties reaffirm their commitment to consistent and unconditional implementation of all provisions of the November 9 trilateral statement. This also applies to Azerbaijan’s unfulfilled obligation to return prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees, provided for in paragraph 8 of the statement of November 9 [2021 – on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh], as well as to Azerbaijan’s unfulfilled obligations on other points.
Secondly, the Sochi statement of November 26 once again confirms the provision on unblocking all transport routes and economic ties in the region, provided for by the statement of January 11 , and once again the propaganda theses about the “corridor” or corridor logic are refuted [ Azerbaijan demands a corridor connecting it with its exclave – Nakhichevan via the territory of Armenia, the Armenian authorities declare their readiness to provide roads, but not a “corridor”, which means the loss of sovereign control over the territory – JAMnews].
Thirdly, according to the statement, an agreement was reached to take steps to increase the level of stability and security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The first and most important step in this direction should be the implementation of steps aimed at reducing tensions.
We are also convinced that the full implementation of the provisions of the trilateral statements will contribute to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs”.
Immediately after the trilateral meeting of the heads of state, Armenian political scientists began to talk about the implications of the Sochi declaration and possible scenarios for the development of events. One such discussion took place on 30 November.
The head of the Armenian Institute of International Relations and Security Styopa Safaryan drew attention to the fact that the statement signed in Sochi first mentions the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, then the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan:
“It seems that in spatial terms the establishment of peace and stability, the increase in the level of security extends not only to the border of Armenia-Azerbaijan, but also the shadow of an umbrella over Artsakh is visible”.
According to the expert, the Armenian side did not expect such a turn that the Commission on the delimitation of the state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the creation of which is stated in the document, would be bilateral, not trilateral:
“It’s no secret that in the past Russia tried to form a trilateral commission, but now we are only talking about Russia’s participation as a consultant”, Safaryan says and recalls the draft document published as a result of the leak, which also spoke about the creation of a trilateral commission.
He believes that if Russia provides maps of the Soviet era, based on which the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is marked, “one could think about attracting other international consultants, especially since Prime Minister Pashinyan spoke at an online press conference about demarcation carried out in accordance with the EU standards”.
Expert on military-political issues Armine Margaryan believes that the creation of a bilateral commission on demarcation meets the interests of not only Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also Russia.
She considers Moscow’s statements about Russia not wanting to have a monopoly on the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations non-coincidental;:
“The main reason for this is that each trilateral format is de facto four-sided, Turkey is also included in it. The Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem works quite synchronously. Russia regularly encounters certain problems, which are primarily expressed in the form of a policy of threats and the use of force by Azerbaijan”.
According to the expert, Russia does not want to jeopardize the reputation of the peacekeepers and the Russian Federation itself, and, at the same time, “it is not possible to bring Azerbaijan into a constructive field”. Therefore, the creation of a bilateral rather than a trilateral commission is an acceptable option for Russia:
“Russia has managed to keep a small window for itself so that, if necessary, it can count on the support of international partners”.
The political scientist believes that certain conditions are necessary for the demarcation process to begin, including steps aimed at building mutual trust:
“This may entail, for example, Azerbaijani troops leaving the occupied territories of Armenia, where they have been deployed since May 12 as a result of military aggression”.
Armine Margaryan notes that in recent days the rhetoric of the Azerbaijani authorities has softened․ Before the meeting in Brussels between Pashinyan and Aliyev, which will be held on December 15 at the initiative of the head of the European Council, Azerbaijan is trying to position itself as a peace-loving state.
The expert does not rule out that before or after the meeting in Brussels, Azerbaijan may return some of the Armenian prisoners. However, she said, this does not mean that Azerbaijan will change its strategic goals and policies.