A positive impetus to the negotiations? Baku and Yerevan on the Moscow meeting of foreign ministers
Moscow meeting of foreign ministers
A regular meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia took place in Moscow. “We need steps that it is highly desirable to take without delay in the interests of providing the population of Nagorno-Karabakh with food, medicine, essentials, and ensuring uninterrupted electricity and gas supply,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting.
He also announced an Aliyev-Pashinyan-Putin meeting in Russia before the end of this year.
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Lavrov: “The road is not easy”
After the end of the tripartite negotiations, Lavrov stated that steps are needed without delay in the interests of providing the population of Nagorno-Karabakh with food, medicine, essentials, and ensuring uninterrupted electricity and gas supply.
- Particular attention is paid to the issues of delimitation, which are closely related to the entire set of problems under discussion and the speedy conclusion of a peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan.
- The culmination of the negotiation process should be precisely the signing of an agreement that will draw a line under the efforts initiated during the tripartite meetings with the President of the Russian Federation.
- Those who are sincerely interested in helping Baku and Yerevan find agreements are welcome, but there should be no attempts to impose certain agreements, not based on the interests of the two peoples, but for the sake of geopolitical and domestic political considerations.
- Guarantees of the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in the context of ensuring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in full accordance with the Declaration of 1991, signed by the leaders of the former Soviet republics in Alma-Ata, remains the most sensitive issue.
“The Armenian side has an understanding of the need to convince the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to meet as soon as possible with Azerbaijani representatives to agree on the rights arising from the relevant legislation and from international obligations (in this case, Azerbaijan), including numerous conventions on ensuring the rights of national minorities.”
- The Azerbaijani side is ready to provide the same guarantees on a reciprocal basis with respect to persons living on its territory.
- Armenians are ready to do the same with respect to the application of all conventions to citizens residing in the Republic of Armenia.
Lavrov called these issues difficult and expressed the hope that their joint discussions would give a positive impetus to the negotiation process.
Information from Baku
“Minister Jeyhun Bayramov once again brought to the attention of the meeting participants the position of Azerbaijan regarding the current situation in the region, as well as in connection with the threats and illegal actions from Armenia regarding the steps taken by Azerbaijan to establish peace and security in the region, and military provocations, including creating obstacles for the flight of aircraft. Jeyhun Bayramov stressed that allegations of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the region are completely groundless, they are political speculations,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the Moscow meeting.
“The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister noted that the measures taken against the use of the Lachin road by Armenia for military purposes, as well as the illegal export of Azerbaijan’s natural resources, contrary to the obligations enshrined in the tripartite Statement of November 10, 2020, are the sovereign right of Azerbaijan.
Jeyhun Bayramov added that the creation of the Lachin checkpoint on the state border by Azerbaijan for this purpose was a necessary measure. The minister stressed that, despite the fact that from the moment the checkpoint began operating, all conditions were created for the transparent, safe and orderly passage of the Armenian residents of Karabakh in both directions, the provocation committed by Armenia against the border checkpoint on June 15 created obstacles for crossing borders by Armenian residents. According to Jeyhun Bayramov, at present the Azerbaijani side ensures the passage of Armenian residents through the border checkpoint for medical purposes.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan recalled that despite the fact that Azerbaijan put forward a number of proposals, including the use of the Agdam-Khankendi [Stepanakert] road and other alternative roads to meet the needs of the Armenian residents, the fact that these proposals were not accepted by the Armenian side, testifies to their insidious intentions, and statements about the humanitarian situation in the region are political blackmail.”
Information from Yerevan
The Armenian Foreign Ministry did not comment on the trilateral talks in Moscow. The ministry’s website and Facebook page provide details only about Ararat Mirzoyan’s meeting with the Russian minister. But from this text it is clear what position the Armenian side adhered to during the negotiations.
In particular, at the meeting with Lavrov, the Armenian Foreign Minister focused on the following issues:
- “the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is deepening with every passing hour as a result of the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan,
- the imperative to immediately lift the blockade of the Lachin corridor in accordance with the provisions of the Trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 and the Orders of the International Court of Justice,
- the need to take concrete steps by the signatories of the Trilateral statement and the possibility to use the existing international tools,
- the importance of addressing the issues of rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh under an international mechanism,
- he need for the constructive approach from the Azerbaijani side.”
The message of the Armenian Foreign Ministry specifically stipulates the issue of the map along which the border delimitation will be carried out, and again there is a refusal to provide the Azerbaijani side with a “corridor” for communication with Nakhichevan:
“In the context of delimitation and border security between the two countries, Minister Mirzoyan stressed the commitment to take the 1975 map as the basis for ensuring maximum clarity in the process of further border delimitation. In the context of unblocking all economic and transport communications in the region, the absence of an alternative to the functioning of the relevant communications under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries.”
Comment from Baku
According to political observer Gadzhi Namazov, it can be said with certainty that in Moscow the foreign ministers of the three countries managed to “achieve a clear understanding on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue”:
“It is not worth dwelling on the statements of the Foreign Ministries of Azerbaijan and Armenia, because in them, each side indicated only those moments that are beneficial to it. The statements after the meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov look much more interesting.
According to him, it is urgent to solve the problem with the delivery of food and essential goods to the Armenian population of Karabakh. But Lavrov did not specify in what way and from where. Therefore, for Russia, the option proposed by official Baku is now acceptable – the delivery of humanitarian aid along the Aghdam-Khankendi road.
I would also note an important detail in the statement of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Thus, Armenia must convince the Armenians of Karabakh to immediately sit down at the negotiating table with Baku in order to resolve issues within the framework of the relevant legislation, i.e. Constitution of Azerbaijan. Since here it is impossible to interpret this phrase in any other way.
I think that in the coming days we will already see the results of this meeting on the ground, which, in view of the current acute situation in the region, turned out to be very productive.”
Commentary from Yerevan
Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan regarded the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks organized yesterday in Moscow as “an imitation of Russia’s vigorous activity.” In his opinion, the Kremlin is trying to show that it “still exists and is an important player,” as in recent months negotiations have been conducted on Western platforms.
“It is also important for Russia that if any document is signed, it should be signed on the Russian site and through Moscow’s mediation. All the mediators are talking about a quick settlement, “very soon signing” of a peace treaty, and Moscow has decided to keep up with this trend,” he told JAMnews.
However, Grigoryan says that there is still a number of unresolved issues, and the sincerity of Lavrov’s claim for a speedy settlement is questionable, given the strategic goals of the Russian Federation:
“Along with this statement, it is clear that Russia is interested in creating or maintaining some kind of status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, which will allow the Russian peacekeeping mission to stay here.”
The political scientist sees progress in the issue of unblocking transport in the region, but emphasizes the existence of serious disagreements, in particular regarding customs control at the border. He says that Moscow and Baku insist that Russian border guards perform this function, Yerevan believes that this function should be performed by the border service of Armenia:
“It is difficult to predict how a compromise solution will be reached. Either Russia and Azerbaijan will be able to put pressure on and force Armenia to make concessions, or the issues will remain unresolved.”
The political scientist assumes that the Azerbaijani agenda was also promoted at these negotiations, and there was no opposition from the Armenian side.
According to him, the final statement of the Russian Foreign Minister contains a number of “problematic formulations”, in particular the assertion that the Armenian authorities should call on the authorities of the unrecognized NKR to participate in negotiations with Baku.
Grigoryan emphasizes that a few weeks ago, when the US tried to organize a meeting between NK Armenians and Azerbaijanis in one of the European countries, Moscow actively prevented it from taking place. The Azerbaijani side made a similar proposal to meet in Baku. However, in this case there could be no question of international mediation:
“It is unlikely that Lavrov had in mind negotiations with American mediation. By and large, he calls on the people of Artsakh to accept the Azerbaijani version. Or there is a third one, but Azerbaijan is unlikely to agree to it. We are talking about holding talks in Ivanyan [Khojaly] with the mediation of peacekeepers.”
In his speech, Sergei Lavrov, talking about the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, hints at the legislation of Azerbaijan and the rights of national minorities. It turns out that he considers Armenians a minority within Azerbaijan. Grigoryan says: thus, before the start of negotiations between Baku and the Armenians, NK Moscow determines the framework within which discussions about their rights and security should take place.
According to the political scientist, the fact that the Russian side speaks of Armenia’s readiness to protect the rights of ethnic minorities living on its territory also raises questions:
“Although there are currently no Azerbaijanis living in Armenia, we must not forget the context in which the issue is being discussed. Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations are underway, and Azerbaijan is known to use the narrative of the so-called “Western Azerbaijan”. This is an attempt to mirror the position of Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh. The very fact of the appearance of such an emphasis in the text of Lavrov’s statement cannot but cause concern.”
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Results of the Moscow meeting of foreign ministers