Another unfruitful meeting of Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs
According to experts, continuation of Armenia’s settlement policy in Karabakh do not eliminate the possibility of war, nor does it bring the peoples closer to peace
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is carrying out a mediation mission to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, have held regular meetings between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are currently being held via video conference. The next online meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia was held on June 30.
According to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, during the one-hour video conference, the sides discussed the current state of the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijani Minister Elmar Mammadyarov raised the issue of illegal activities carried out by Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including infrastructure changes.
The co-chairs noted the recent increase in aggressive rhetoric. Elmar Mammadyarov stressed that Armenia's provocative actions inflamed the rhetoric.
The parties agreed to hold the next video conference of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the coming month with the mediation and participation of the co-chairs. The co-chairs also noted that they would explore the possibility of organizing direct contacts between the ministers at the earliest opportunity.
How does holding such meetings affect the negotiation process?
Speaking to Kaspi, chairman of the Atlas Research Center, political analyst Elkhan Shahinoglu, said that the co-chairs' statement on the conference drew attention to several points. "First of all, the co-chairs praised the relative stability in the region. They expressed satisfaction that the parties will continue to use the existing direct communication to avoid escalation of tensions. At the same time, the co-chairs expressed concern that the latest provocative statements and provocative rhetoric could damage the settlement process. In addition, the Minsk Group co-chairs said that there was no military solution to the conflict. They called on the sides to take additional steps to strengthen the ceasefire and prepare the people for peace. The Co-Chairs stressed that, if conditions allow, monitoring will be resumed under the leadership of the OSCE Personal Representative. Moreover, the co-chairs and foreign ministers agreed to hold the next joint video conference in July and a direct meeting as soon as possible,” he said.
According to Shahinoglu, a statement issued by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on the online conference said that Minister Elmar Mammadyarov raised the issue of illegal activities carried out by Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including infrastructure changes. "However, there is not a single sentence about it in the written statement of the co-chairs. In other words, the co-chairs are not worried about Armenia's illegal access to Nagorno-Karabakh through the occupied territories. The co-chairs are not worried about the policy of Armenian separatists to settle Shusha, Lachin and Kalbajar. However, according to their plan, the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh must be evacuated and the Azerbaijanis must return,” the political analyst noted.
"This time, as always, they focused on two ideas,” he said. "There is no military solution to the conflict" and "the peoples must be prepared for peace." The demonstrative visits of the Armenian Prime Minister to Shusha, the so-called inauguration ceremony there, as well as the continuation of the settlement policy do not eliminate the possibility of war, nor do they bring the peoples closer to peace. The co-chairs either do not want to understand this or prolong it.”
Political commentator Mohammad Asadullazade said that during the video conference the sides exchanged views on maintaining the ceasefire and continuing the talks. "I would like to note that the co-chairs of the Minsk Group cannot allow Armenia to accept the exchange of prisoners on the principle of "all for all" and the negotiations on the "Renewed Madrid Principles". The Armenian government deviates from two principles, only agreeing to maintain the ceasefire, thus making the talks illogical. Official Yerevan is embarking on an adventure, placing the exchange of prisoners on the separatists. However, Nikol Pashinyan told President Ilham Aliyev that he would deal with this issue. But for more than a year, there is nothing changed. Official Yerevan is also obstructing the settlement process by making a "proposal" to include separatists in the process,” he added.
"The Minsk Group co-chairs maintain the status quo through such video conferences. If the co-chairs fail to accept the exchange of prisoners and the "Renewed Madrid Principles" under Pashinyan's rule, they must suspend their activities. In this case, official Baku must not only remain committed to negotiations, but also resort to military pressure. I would also like to note that the passivity of the United States in the negotiations is unfortunate. The US presidential election seems to have reduced the Trump administration's interest in resolving the conflict. This has laid the groundwork for Russia to take a more uncompromising position and do its best to maintain the status quo,” the political commentator noted.
Asadullazade stressed that no serious results were expected from the talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers. "Currently, the Armenian government is interested in maintaining the ceasefire on the frontline due to internal political tensions,” he said. "At a time when opposition pressure on Nikol Pashinyan is growing, it is unlikely that he will compromise. He will not even exchange prisoners. In my opinion, positive dynamics is not expected from these talks either. Azerbaijan must issue a serious ultimatum to Armenia on the construction of a third road to Karabakh, the construction of settlements in Gubadli and Zangilan, and emphasize that otherwise these steps will be met with military pressure. In general, the Armenian side is not expected to take any steps to resolve the conflict this year.”