Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh community receives new head – what does this mean for conflict negotiations?
The Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh will now be headed up by a young employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tural Ganjaliyev.
Many in Baku believe that the new appointment has been made with the aim of promoting a dialogue between Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
The position was previously held by Bayram Safarov for nine years.
Currently, the involvement of the Azerbaijani community in the negotiation process is limited only to periodic meetings with international mediators. They do not take an active part in this process, nor do representatives of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).
However, a statement released at the end of its last meeting reads:
“As an important step in this direction [of conflict settlement], the dialogue between the two communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region must expand. The Azerbaijani community is ready for a constructive dialogue. It calls upon the international community and particularly the co-chair countries of the Minsk Group of the OSCE to give their input into resolving the conflict and support contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the region”.
What does the appointment of a new community leader mean?
The change in community leadership can be considered a significant event, primarily because the 38-year-old Tural Ganjaliyev is a young professional diplomat, unlike the 68-year-old Bayram Safarov. Moreover, the fact that he became the head of the community suggests that the Azerbaijani authorities are preparing themselves for real communication with Karabakh Armenians.
JAMnews political columnist Shahin Rzayev on the appointment:
“It is interesting that the “election” of a young professional diplomat took place the day after the talks between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“The statement by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, “for the first time in a long time we managed to reach an understanding”, caused quite a stir in both the media and society.
“As is known, one of the main proposals of the new leader of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, is for the Karabakh Armenians to become an independent party in the negotiation process. Pashinyan believes that he, unlike the previous leaders of Armenia who are closely associated with Karabakh, does not have the moral right to represent the Karabakh Armenians.
“In other words, Baku’s agreement to the participation of Karabakh Armenians in the negotiations regardless of Yerevan may be one of the points that the “reach an understanding” statement was referring to. But Azerbaijan is not ready to conduct direct negotiations with NKR on an equal footing, therefore Karabakh Azeris are also expected to be included in the negotiations.
“The new head of the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh, Tural Ganjaliyev, is ideally suited for this purpose. He comes from Shusha, and at the same time is an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If he wishes, he can be represented as both an official and as a public figure.”
Native of Karabakh, journalist Asaf Quliyev:
“Serious processes have begun around Karabakh. The news of recent events gives reason to believe that Azerbaijan has agreed to negotiations with the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians. So, the negotiations necessary to resolve the conflict have moved forward.”
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov plans to meet with his Armenian counterpart in January 2019.