Will PM Pashinyan and President Aliyev meet in Brussels after the failed meeting in Stockholm?
Armenia is expecting a meeting between Prime Minister Pashinyan and the President of Azerbaijan in Brussels. The meeting is scheduled to take place on December 16 within the framework of the Eastern Partnership summit, at the initiative of the head of the European Council Charles Michel. The European partners hope that the negotiations will help avoid new military clashes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and contribute to the normalization of relations between the countries in general. But will the Pashinyan–Aliyev meeting take place on the European platform, taking into account the events that have taken place in recent days?
The Eastern Partnership is a European Union project aimed at establishing ties with six countries of the former USSR: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
On December 2, the meeting of foreign ministers in Stockholm within the framework of the ministerial conference of the OSCE Minsk Group was canceled, as the Azerbaijani side refused to participate in it. At the same time, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused the Armenian side of “provocations” that disrupted the negotiations. The matter concerns the participation of the deputies of the Armenian parliament in joint hearings with their colleagues in the unrecognized NKR, which the Azerbaijani authorities assessed as “an illegal visit to the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
On December 6, President Aliyev presented Armenia with an ultimatum – to name the date for the opening of the Zangezur Corridor to its exclave Nakhichevan, over which Armenia will not have sovereign control. In response, the Armenian Foreign Ministry called on Azerbaijan to refrain from “provocative statements” and stated that Baku’s demand contradicts all trilateral agreements signed since November 9, 2020, that is, after the end of hostilities in Karabakh to this day.
Alexander Iskandaryan, political scientist
Baku’s demarch as a way of pressuring Armenia
“The way in which the head of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Bayramov presented the trip of the Armenian deputies to Artsakh cannot be a reason for his refusal to participate in the meet in Stockholm. This, of course, is just an excuse.
Today, there is a closed process in a trilateral format (Armenia-Russia-Azerbaijan), and an attempt is underway to achieve some results within this format. Taking into account the useless statement which followed the three-hour meeting in Sochi, it can be said that the sides have not been able to achieve any results so far. Bayramov’s refusal to meet in Stockholm is one of the forms of Baku’s pressure on Armenia.
The meeting in Brussels will not bring any results either, it is not some act that could drastically change the process.
Further development of events depends on the very process that is going on latently in a trilateral format”.
Europe has no security instruments
“Brussels can only record the very fact of the meeting. Perhaps there will be some kind of oral statement with a non-binding text. In theory, we can expect a written statement or protocol, but in reality, it is unlikely.
The point is that we are talking about security, and the European Union does not have security instruments. The European Union itself is not a security provider, but a consumer.
EU takes it from NATO – and NATO is a completely different format. The European Union does not have the security tools to work in the region.
It has the resources to work in the humanitarian or economic field, which is applied from time to time. But, nevertheless, the very fact that another platform has appeared for a meeting of the leaders of the two countries cannot be ignored either”.
Baku may come up with a new surprise
“One can always expect surprises in a form of a demarche from Baku. If by December 16 Azerbaijan fails to achieve any results at all, and the resistance from the Armenian side will remain quite substantial, then it is quite possible that Aliyev will refuse to meet.
It is about transforming the process of discussing issues of demarcation and delimitation of borders into a format that will be more or less open and bilateral.
Azerbaijan is trying to get such a paper, and, obviously, one of the key issues is the corridor running through Meghri, which it demands term “corridor”]”.
Hakob Badalyan, political commentator
Turkey plans to get into the share
“The reason for Bayramov’s refusal to meet in Stockholm is that Azerbaijan is not interested in forming a stable political process since this can drive it into some political framework and significantly deprive it of the possibility of using the policy of blackmail.
But the question is not only about Azerbaijan, but also about Turkey, which is trying to constantly influence the processes in which it is not represented through Baku.
This applies to both the trilateral format (Armenia-Russia-Azerbaijan) and the OSCE Minsk Group [which mediated peace negotiations to resolve the conflict before the second Karabakh war took place].
Despite the fact that Turkey’s opinion is taken into account in various issues, it does not have any status in these formats. Both demarche and destructiveness of Azerbaijan are a good toolkit in its hands. To this end, Turkey is promoting the 3 + 3 format [Turkey, Russia, Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan] and openly says that regional issues should be discussed with all regional players”.
Russia claims a special role in the Caucasus
“Russia’s strategy is more transparent. It is trying to keep the Caucasus for herself and wants its special role in the Caucasus to be recognized in the circles of the architects of the new world order. Russia considers the permanent members of the UN Security Council – USA, France, Great Britain, China and Russia itself, to be those architects.
Putin himself made such an offer in 2020. He invited five members of the UN Security Council to discuss issues of the new world order, in response to which a few months ago during Erdogan’s visit to Africa, the Turkish leader said that “the fate of the world should not be decided by five countries”.
Russia’s strategy in this regard is quite transparent: a special role in the Caucasus and recognition of this role at the international level legitimize its actions.
Without this recognition, Russia will have to accept the demands of Turkey and Iran on the principle of “equal with equal”.
On this path, Russia will continue to work with Turkey and Iran. As you can see, Russia does not even oppose the “3 + 3” format, but this position should be regarded as a tactical strategy. Russia is not interested in moving from a trilateral format to a new regional one.
That is why it is trying to capitalize on the successes achieved in the trilateral format in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group, negotiating with the United States and France [two other MG co-chairs]. Russia understands that only the Minsk Group has a strong legitimacy, and only with its permission will it be able to feel strong and confident in the Caucasus”.
Brussels meeting will be of a humanitarian nature
“You shouldn’t expect anything significant from Brussels. The main range of issues discussed there is likely to be of a humanitarian nature.
You need to understand that if something fails in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group (meeting in Stockholm), then in the format organized with the mediation of the President of the European Council, it will be almost impossible to get it.
Some humanitarian issues, for example, the return of some of the Armenian prisoners, may be successful. And even then, this will only concern some of the prisoners, not all of them.
I don’t think that any political issues can be discussed in Brussels.
Charles Michel himself also understands that he does not have the necessary self-sufficient resources. By this, the EU is trying to somehow emphasize or enhance its political role in the region – within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. That is why the meeting is planned on the sidelines of this summit, the political environment of which is trying to increase”.
Will there be a meeting in Brussels after Stockholm?
“On December 6, Aliyev demanded that Armenia name a specific date for the provision of the so-called ‘Zangezur Corridor’,” and then there will be no problems”. It is noteworthy that Aliyev said this after Putin’s telephone conversation with Erdogan on December 3.
Perhaps Aliyev’s statement is aimed at an internal audience only because the leader of Azerbaijan has serious problems within his society. But then another question arises: did Erdogan succeed in torpedoing the Sochi process [the Putin-Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting on November 26] and allowed Aliyev to toughen his position like that.
It is obvious that Erdogan is dissatisfied with the Sochi process. It is unacceptable for Turkey that Russia fixes some kind of individual progress in control over political processes in the region. It is no coincidence that right after Sochi, Erdogan met with the Iranian leader in Ashgabat, despite the fact that there were no agreements on this matter and they suddenly signed the Azerbaijan-Iran-Turkmenistan gas agreement, which is competitive with Russia.
All this shows that the Turks dictate their terms through Azerbaijan.
As of today, there are no preconditions that Aliyev will refuse to meet in Brussels, but such a demarche cannot be ruled out either.