"Intense behind-the-scenes negotiations are underway." Comment from Baku
The situation in Karabakh
The situation in the part of Karabakh where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily located and on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia remains tense. This morning a truck with a humanitarian cargo of the Russian Red Cross Society entered Khankendi (Stepanakert) on its way from Aghdam.
An Azerbaijani political observer believes that this fact was a positive step in resolving the situation and “the threat of resumption of active hostilities is not as acute as it was a few days ago”.
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Azerbaijani political observer Haji Namazov commented on the situation and relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia for JAMNews:
“I’ve been analyzing what has been happening all last week on the track of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, and I am increasingly coming to the idea that these days the intensity of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the parties to the conflict and their mediators has increased dramatically.
Judge for yourself. Since the middle of last week, Azerbaijan’s pro-government media almost simultaneously began to behave as it did in late September 2020, just before the outbreak of the second Karabakh war.
Not much time has passed since then, and people remember well the associations with those days. There are reports from the Ministry of Defense about violations of the ceasefire, video and photo materials about the movement of military equipment, both from this side and that side, thrown into social networks by “informed” bloggers.
In other words, everyone was waiting for active hostilities to begin. But there were also questions. How would hostilities begin? Will it be a counter-terrorist operation in Karabakh, or clashes on the border with Armenia? Because the movement of equipment and ceasefire violations were observed in both directions,” the analyst said.
According to him, reports of Nikol Pashinyan’s numerous telephone conversations with the leaders of countries and international organizations – neighbors and active mediators – added to the general tension:
“Everything was reduced to the fact that Azerbaijan presented an ultimatum, and the Armenian leadership went to soften its positions. The Prime Minister of this country in all his negotiations indicated his desire to hold an emergency meeting with Aliyev. This is stated in all press releases of the Armenian government on Pashinyan’s telephone talks.
But then a truck of the Russian Red Cross appeared on the horizon, and tensions dropped sharply.
However, in this case there was a mishap. The truck had to wait for three days in the city of Bard for it to finally drive along the Aghdam-Khankendi road today. What was the problem?
The Azerbaijani side came up with the explanation that only a person who is very distant from the ongoing processes would believe. Thus, literally the following was said: the truck cannot move in the direction of Khankendi because of the pressure of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Russian Red Cross Society.
How the ICRC could prevent the movement of the Russian truck from Azerbaijan to the territory controlled by the Russian peacekeepers remained to be seen.”
Haji Namazov notes that another statement from the Azerbaijani side is noteworthy in this case. He recalls that as soon as the Russian truck started approaching Karabakh, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said that the passage of this truck was not part of the agreement on the simultaneous opening of the Aghdam-Khankendi and Lachin-Khankendi roads, and was a separate act of assistance to the Armenian population of the region.
“Apparently, this is where the discord occurred, which prevented the truck from moving for almost three days.
But the negotiations did not stop. From the public during these days, we know only about the conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan. And the next morning the lorry reached the town of Khankendi.
Now everyone is waiting for the simultaneous opening of two roads towards Khankendi. But they have different statuses.
If the Aghdam-Khankendi road is considered an internal road, it can be traveled on an unimpeded basis. On the Lachin corridor, on the other hand, cars have to pass through, observing the customs and border requirements of Azerbaijan,” he said.
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The political observer notes another very important point:
“Only ICRC vehicles can pass through both roads. In other words, two trucks from the Aghdam side and about three dozen trucks from the Armenian side will not pass through. Or their cargo will be transported in vehicles belonging to the Red Cross.
In any case, the tension has noticeably decreased, and today we can state that the threat of resumption of active hostilities is not as acute as it was a few days ago.
How long will this relative calm continue? No serious expert can predict that now.”