Hopes remain low as Azerbaijan, Armenia readying for third meeting in Brussels
By Vugar Khalilov
The Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders are slated to meet in Brussels again on May 22 to think over ways of overcoming an impasse and advance the peace agenda, Azernews reports.
This meeting, like the ones in December 2021 and April 2022, is expected to proceed under the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel.
The Apil 6 meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders registered progress in their approaches to tackle problems and establish working groups for the border delimitation and peace deal. The meeting at that point agreed on establishing working groups by the end of April to kick off talks, albeit this did not materialize.
On May 18, at the press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart, President Aliyev said that Armenia canceled the previously agreed meeting of the border commissions scheduled for the end of April.
“Azerbaijan set up its working group on time and was ready to send out a delegation. This was agreed with the Armenian side. By the way, it was the Armenian Foreign Ministry that proposed to hold the first meeting on the border issue. Azerbaijan accepted the offer and we were ready to send out a delegation. However, on the last day, on 29 April, Armenia canceled the agreed meeting. This is very disappointing. Even more disappointing was Armenia's refusal to hold a different meeting on the border issue on 7-11 May, based on Armenia's initial proposal. So we are waiting for new dates from Armenia to start work,” Aliyev stated.
Commenting on Aliyev's statement that Yerevan twice refused to hold pre-agreed meetings on border delimitation, Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan said that the Armenian side did not refuse to meet with Azerbaijan and is ready to start the delimitation and border security commission.
"The Armenian side remains committed to the implementation of the agreements reached. Accordingly, Armenia did not cancel or refuse to hold any meetings. Within the framework of the agreements reached between the leaders of the two countries in Sochi and Brussels, Armenia remains ready to proceed with the commissions," he added.
Armenia has formed a commission on delimitation and security of the border with Azerbaijan and will publish it in due time, Secretary of Armenia's Security Council Armen Grigoryan told a briefing on May 19.
"The composition of the commission is ready, I think when the time is right, the working group will make a statement," he added.
In the meantime, large-scale opposition protests have been underway in Armenia since May 1, involving the Armenia Bloc and the Republican Party, as well as the Dashnaktsutyun and Motherland parties. The protestors claim that Pashinyan intends to sign a peace treaty with Baku, thus recognizing Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
In another development, rivals of the sitting Armenian prime minister claimed that at a time when the country is in the grip of protests, Pashinyan with his latest meeting with President Putin wanted to display that he has the Russian president's backing, Armenian Hraparak newspaper writes.
“A proof of this was his visit to the Netherlands, yesterday's statement by the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia that they ‘seek to help the Armenian people build the kind of future that the Armenian people chose in 2018, and confirmed again during the parliamentary elections in 2021,’ which can even be seen as interference in the internal life of the country,” the newspaper added.
Hraparak writes that Nikol Pashinyan was not originally scheduled to meet with the Russian president at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Moscow, as evidenced by the fact that the pre-announced agenda only noted Putin's meetings with the leaders of Belarus, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while Armenia was not mentioned. However, it later turned out that there was also a meeting between Pashinyan and Putin. The Russian side said that Pashinyan had asked for a meeting with Putin.
Commenting on allegations, Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan said that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has not applied to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to resolve the internal political situation in Armenia, Russia's TASS said.
"Prime Minister Pashinyan has always relied only on the will of the Armenian people in all internal political issues. The information about Armenia's alleged appeal to the CSTO to resolve internal political issues is also misinformation," he underlined.
In November 2020, Pashinyan signed a trilateral statement with Azerbaijani and Russian Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin, ending military operations in the conflict zone around former Nagorno-Karabakh.
Opponents of the Armenian prime minister called the signed document capitulation, and mass protests broke out in Armenia. As a result, Pashinyan called early parliamentary elections, as a result of which, his party strengthened its position, gaining an absolute majority in the legislative body, and Pashinyan was re-elected as prime minister.
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