Leader of Karabakh Armenians touring OSCE countries – what does Azerbaijan have to say?
The de-facto president of Nagorno Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan, has been traveling around the countries of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – the main body responsible for finding a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan is not happy about this.
“The tour of the head of the illegal formation [Karabakh] to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries may lead to an unexpected development of the situation around the conflict. If this happens, the entire responsibility will fall on the Armenian side,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Sahakyan is on a working visit to Moscow. Azerbaijan has lodged a complaint with the Russian authorities, saying that in receiving Sahakyan, Moscow is “violating the friendship, cooperation and mutual security agreement between Russia and Azerbaijan”.
Azerbaijan says that the two countries have an agreement for “the parties not to support separatist movements, and also prohibit and suppress the activities of individuals against state sovereignty, independence and the territorial integrity of the other party”.
Prior to that, Sahakyan visited France and the USA. France received a letter of protest from Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, while the United States and Russia only received statements.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an unrecognised republic in the South Caucasus, populated by ethnic Armenians. Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas came under Armenian control as a result of hostilities in 1991-1994. The conflict is considered “frozen”, though shootings and flareups frequently break out along the line of contact which result in casualties on both sides.
The OSCE Minsk Group is a group of member countries leading the search for a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict.
Sahakyan’s visit to Moscow was made public on 24 November by his press service. No details regarding his visit have been reported.
The reaction from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani pundits say that Sahakyan’s visits indicate an intention to have the Karabakh Armenians as a party in the negotiations on the Karabakh conflict.
JAMnews’ political commentator Shahin Rzayev:
“There is nothing new in the visits of the leader of the Karabakh Armenians to the countries of Europe and Russia. This has been their practice since the beginning of the conflict in the 90s.
“The main purpose of these visits is not political, but rather humanitarian. Their voices have already been heard, because the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group regularly visits Khankendi [ed. Stepanakert, the de-facto capital of Karabakh]. During these visits, the leaders of the Karabakh Armenians meet with various charitable foundations and agree on donations to ease the already difficult life in the self-proclaimed republic.
“Why has Azerbaijan’s reaction been stronger than before? Probably because of the change in power in Armenia, The new leader, Nikol Pashinyan, has also proposed to accept the Karabakh Armenians as a party to the conflict and to negotiate with them directly. This annoys Baku.
“France came first as Sahakyan began his tour in Paris. Then he went to Washington and Moscow, and the reaction softened a bit. One can only guess the reasons, but the US and Russia are probably more respected by our government and are far more afraid of them than they are of France.”