Experts in Baku, Moscow note cautious optimism in Karabakh talks

Mon 01 October 2018 17:37 GMT | 17:37 Local Time

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After the recent meeting between President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the sidelines of the recent CIS summit in Dushanbe city, where new agreements were reached, an opinion formed in the expert community of Russia and Azerbaijan that cautious optimism appeared at the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Earlier, the Armenian government stated that the illegal regime created in Nagorno-Karabakh should be directly involved in the negotiations on the conflict’s settlement since Yerevan will only speak on behalf of Armenia.

However, during the meeting of the president of Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia, the commitment was expressed to negotiate a settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, to strengthen the ceasefire regime in order to prevent incidents on the contact line of troops and on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

At the same time, the parties also decided to develop mechanisms for establishing operational communication between the relevant structures.

Commenting on this fact, a well-known Russian expert, First Vice-President of the Strategic Development Modeling Center Grigory Trofimchuk told Trend that these were agreements that couldn’t contain anything more concrete than a demonstration of the desire for overall stabilization in the Karabakh conflict zone, which is absolutely natural.

“Apparently, Pashinyan received preliminary support of his allies in the US, and now he intends to end the problem with separation of power within Armenia by holding parliamentary election, and thereby to strengthen the Western presence in the life of Armenia, which will automatically affect the negotiation process,” said Trofimchuk. “Now, a lot depends on Baku’s behavior.”

The expert noted that now the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia may negotiate a more substantial meeting of the leaders of their countries.

"But this is a purely technical process that does not involve any special sensations,” he said. “This always happens. As for the issues, only the leaders themselves, rather than foreign ministers, can specify them."

“The meeting in Dushanbe did not envisage an official protocol,” he added. “Therefore, there were not and could not be any fundamental agreements which are obligatory for execution. Nevertheless, there was careful optimism in the settlement process and perhaps, that is why the meeting in Dushanbe is important."

In turn, Azerbaijani political analyst Zaur Mammadov told Trend that the rhetoric of the Armenian leader has been changed because he understands that Baku with its military capabilities can destroy the euphoria that prevails in Armenia today.

“If earlier Armenia hoped for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), now, realizing the current realities, it understands that if a conflict is at the military stage, the CSTO members will support Baku, rather than Yerevan,” he said. “Moreover, parliamentary election is ahead in Armenia. On the one hand, Pashinyan’s radical statements could help him win the election, but on the other - they prevent the settlement of the conflict.”

“It is clear that Baku will not allow representatives of the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh to sit at the negotiating table,” Mammadov added. “Therefore, Pashinyan, despite previous statements, had to agree with the preservation of the former format of the negotiations on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

“Baku expects Pashinyan to be constructive in the settlement of the conflict,” he said. “This is also in the interests of Armenia as the improvement of the socio-economic situation of the Armenian society is possible only after the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Mammadov further stressed the importance of the upcoming talks between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"This is not the first meeting between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he said. “The Armenian Foreign Ministry, as opposed to Pashinyan, has discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with the Azerbaijani side several times, demonstrating that it’s Armenia that is the party to the conflict, rather than a fictional third party."

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

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