Incident at TRACECA conference in Baku: Armenian delegation declines visit to Heydar Aliyev grave
An Armenian delegation who arrived in Baku for a meeting of the intergovernmental commission on the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) project, was unhappy with some points of the itinerary of the event.
In particular, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures of Armenia Armen Simonyan said that he did not understand why the conference participants had to visit the grave of former President of Azerbaijan (and the father of the current president) Heydar Aliyev.
As a rule, almost all official guests from abroad who come to Azerbaijan are taken there.
“The program for the participants of the 13th meeting of the IGC in Yerevan last year did not contain any thematic points with political overtones, although I think you know what historical tests we had to go through,” Simonyan said.
The Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Mikail Jabbarov answered thus:
“The Azerbaijan side in drawing up the cultural program proceeds from absolutely understandable aspects of relations accepted in any civilized society.”
The visit to the grave of Heydar Aliyev was justified by Jabbarov who argued that the TRACECA project was made possible, inter alia, thanks to the activities of the former president.
5th of December
An unusual even is happening alongside the international conference on the TRACECA European Union regional transport project being held in Baku, due to start on December 6.
Allegedly, on December 4, an official delegation of Armenia arrived in Baku.
If this information is confirmed, this will be an exceptional event, as the two countries have been in a state of unresolved conflict around Karabakh since the armed confrontation in the 1990s.
The last time Armenian officials traveled to Baku in 2017.
Then, at that time, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Armenian Parliament Armen Ashotyan and deputy Mane Tandilyan visited the conference of the Euronest parliamentary assembly in Baku.
The visit of the official Armenian delegation to Baku was announced by the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan on his Facebook page on December 2, and was accompanied by a number of high ranking government officials
However, while official sources in Azerbaijan do not confirm or refute this information, the media publish messages citing Armenian sites.
TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) – is a regional cooperation program proposed by the European Union in 1993. Its task is to develop a transport corridor from Europe to the countries of Central Asia through the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea – the European version of a new silk road.
Meetings in Baku are dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the signing of the agreement on TRACECA. Representatives of the TRACECA program, observer countries and international organizations will attend the meeting of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission, scheduled for December 6.
Unprecedented intensification of bilateral contacts between Azerbaijan and Armenia
In the fall of 2019, bilateral Armenian-Azerbaijani contacts at various levels sharply intensified.
On November 17-21, visits of two journalists from Armenia and one of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, as well as three Azerbaijani journalists to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, took place.
On December 4, a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Bratislava was held as part of the OSCE Ministerial Conference, with the mediation and participation of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
In early December, am intense online messaging conversation took place between the first lady and the vice president of Azerbaijan and the wife of the prime minister of Armenia. Mehriban Aliyeva wrote on social media that she would like to listen to mugham in Karabakh, and Anna Hakobyan stated that she could only do this as a guest.
What experts in Baku and Yerevan have to say
Political scientist Hakob Badalyan, Yerevan:
“I do not exclude that the decision to go to Baku has some effect. But this is not some unprecedented phenomenon. Let’s not forget that in 2015 the Armenian Olympic delegation went to Baku. And this is when the situation was quite tense. And we, in fact, were approaching the 2016 war.”
Political scientist Nazakyat Mammadova, Baku:
“The strategic plan of [Armenian diplomacy] is ‘great Armenia’, and Mkhitaryan [an Armenian footballer, player of Manchester United], TRACECA and so on are tactical moves serving an insidious plan. If Mkhitaryan is used to undermine the international image of Azerbaijan, then participation in such a large project as TRACECA is necessary in order to at the same time create the image of a civilized, democratic state of Armenia itself.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an unrecognized republic in the South Caucasus, the majority of the population of which are ethnic Armenians. Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of the Armenian side along with the adjacent territories as a result of hostilities in 1991-1994.
The conflict is considered “frozen,” but skirmishes continue on the line of contact between the troops and there are casualties every year.