By Kamila Aliyeva
The latest meeting between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for years, was marked with certain positivity, whilst only time can tell the real significance of the achieved agreements.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Serzh Sargsyan held talks under the auspices of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Geneva on October 16.
The talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia at presidential level that discussed the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus region followed an earlier meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2016.
The sides agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s settlement and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the line of contact between the two countries’ troops, a joint statement by the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said.
“The Co-Chairs expressed their satisfaction with these direct talks, which took place after a long interval," the statement reads.
The Co-Chairs reaffirmed their readiness to work with the sides on mediating a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a next step, the Co-Chairs plan to organize working sessions with the ministers in the near future.
Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov also attended the meeting, which was organized through mediation of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America). The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk also participated in the summit.
Previously, Armenia, as a party to the conflict, has been refusing to sit at a negotiation table with Azerbaijan for a long time. The post Soviet nation that keeps under occupation 20 percent of neighboring Azerbaijan's territory had to resume talks under the international pressures -- the move that was appreciated by the global community and world organizations.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that the UN supports the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and called upon the parties, based on the positive momentum of the summit, to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during the talks. However, the practical outcomes of the negotiations, held in ‘constructive atmosphere’, are ambiguous, although certain steps were taken to solve the crisis.
Despite the fact that all these decisions undoubtedly demonstrate positive signs, the conflict settlement is yet impossible. Moreover, the prospects for this to happen are unclear due to Armenia’s hidden motives.
Armenia attends the talks for show
While Azerbaijan strives to reach a peaceful settlement of the protracted conflict, Armenia is yet unwilling to take serious steps in this direction. Peace cannot be achieved by the efforts of only one party. Thus, the scenario is predictable. Even if Armenia takes part in the talks because of the international pressure, at some very important point, the country will break the process and withdraw from negotiations.
The future is predicted by the past. Previously, Armenia tried to impede the negotiation process by all means. Last meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents were held in Vienna in May and St. Petersburg in June. After that, the talks stalled, although the Azerbaijani side constantly affirmed Baku's readiness to sit at a negotiating table with Yerevan. Armenia was ignoring the calls.
Azerbaijan has many reasons for mistrust towards Armenia. Yerevan, for instance, confirmed the correctness of such an attitude by disclosing the details of the talks.
Sargsyan breaks promise again
Following the talks, Sargsyan met with representatives of the Armenian community at the Armenia’s Embassy in the Swiss Confederation and revealed the results of the meeting with President Aliyev.
“We do not have any specific agreements, so to speak, regarding the options for solving the problem,” he said adding that both sides are interested in taking measures to further ease tensions, according to Armenian media outlets.
He further noted that there cannot be a solution that can somehow disrupt the security of Karabakh.
“The only solution that works for us is that Karabakh should not be part of Azerbaijan. Never any Armenian leader can accept and implement such a decision,” Sargsyan added.
It should be noted that the sides were committed not to disclose any additional information on the talks and make statements. Such a behavior demonstrates once again that Armenia has no other aim than undermining negotiations and global efforts to resolve the crisis.
Assistant to Azerbaijan’s president for foreign policy issues Novruz Mammadov said that the deal was that no statements were to be made other than on agreed points.
“Alas, Serzh Sargsyan is in his character again," he noted while commenting on the statement of the Armenian president following the Geneva meeting. "As usual, he feels privileged to violate the agreement that was reached during the talks. The deal was that no statements were to be made other than on agreed points. Yet he did just the contrary. Again, he made a promise and then failed to honor it. He should have at least been embarrassed, given the presence of the co-chairs and the OSCE representative. Apparently, he does not want to give up his habit of derailing the talks.”
Nevertheless, he [Sargsyan] is aware and must not forget that the Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijan’s inalienable part and will remain so, Mammadov noted.
“Sargsyan’s plan will be realized neither in his lifetime, nor during the ones of his successors. His dream will never become a reality, no matter how hard he “wags his tail” to his patrons. Seemingly, he aims to keep the people in Armenia in the state of constant agitation and suffering. Well, let him keep on trying.” he added.
Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.
Large-scale hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994 but Armenia continued the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions.
In 1993, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted four resolutions (No. 822, 853, 874 and 884), condemning the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan, reaffirming respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory.
Peace talks mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. have produced no results so far.
The illegal presence of the Armenian troops in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remains the main cause of the escalation in the region and an obstacle to peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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