What did the foreign ministers agree on?
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan recently made a statement in which he said that Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an understanding in the Karabakh negotiation process. This has become the topic of wide-spread discussion in Armenia, with pundits and social media users wondering what the minister had in mind.
What specifically did Mammadyarov say?
Elmar Mammadyarov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said at a meeting with the Acting Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, which was held in Milan on 5 December, that an understanding on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict had been reached:
“I think that at the last meeting in Milan with my Armenian counterpart, we reached an understanding for the first time in a long time.”
Elmar Mammadyarov also stated that the next meeting would take place in January 2019.
“Most of the time we are devoted to finding ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This will be the main task next year. The main goal is to achieve tangible results.”
What was agreed upon
Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said a joint statement had been made by the heads of the foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the heads of the delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries.
The most important aspects of the statement include:
- All parties involved in the negotiations agree to continue to work in order to ensure long-term peace.
- The co-chair countries welcomed the fact that after the talks of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in September at the CIS summit in Dushanbe, the number of ceasefire violations and reports of victims has decreased.
- The co-chairs called on the parties to take concrete measures in order to prepare the population of their countries for peace.
- The co-chair countries are hoping for the resumption in the near future of an intensive dialogue on a high-level settlement between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
- The next meeting of the foreign ministers will be held in early 2019 under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in order to prepare the ground for future summit talks.
Reaction of social media in Armenia
Some social media users suggested that Yerevan and Baku had reached an agreement on the Karabakh settlement issue itself.
One Armenian Facebook user wrote:
“We cannot possibly give away any of our territories. Not a centimetre.”
“Perhaps Azerbaijan will recognize the independence of Karabakh and in return demand that the areas around Karabakh be given away. What will our answer be? I am sure that Pashinyan has nothing to hide from his people.”
An Armenian pundit’s take
The chairman of the Yerevan Press Club, Boris Navasardyan, says that the aim of Mammadyarov’s statement was to put pressure on the Armenian side:
“I don’t think that Azerbaijan can expect drastic changes in the Karabakh issue from the Armenian authorities because our position is clear: we will talk about the problem when Azerbaijan is ready for it, but they are not ready yet. The only sharp change in this matter would be the resumption of military conflict. But there are no prerequisites for the solution nor are there mutual concessions.”
The view from Baku
JAMnews’ political analyst in Baku, Shahin Rzayev, says that in Azerbaijan, Mammadyarov’s statement would not have garnered attention had it not been for the resonance it had in the Armenian media:
“This was just another meeting, another statement – there have been more than 100 of them in the last 25 years. Where is the news? The news is that, perhaps for the first time, the Azerbaijani side threw something of a curve ball by reporting first on the achieved results, even if these results are only ‘mutual understanding’. The Azerbaijani media learned the details of the talks from the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, and our foreign ministry reacted to the already published news at best the next day.
“However, our minister was the first to announce the information. This is of course very commendable, but it remains unknown what happened there. I do not think that in such a short time something serious could have happened. Societies in Azerbaijan and Armenia are not ready to make any compromises or decisions. So, let’s not exaggerate the meaning of Mammadyarov’s words.”