As Baku, Yerevan hammering out peace deal, kid-glove diplomacy resurfaces anew
By Vugar Khalilov
May 22 saw the third Brussels meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders through the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel, in which the ways of resuscitation of the stalled peace process were thoroughly discussed.
During the 5-hour meeting, the leaders discussed a number of topical issues such as the delimitation of the state border, unblocking the regional transport communications, as well as socio-economic development, viewed as beneficial both for the two arch-enemies as well as for the wider region.
Addressing the media right after the May 22 meeting of the two leaders in Brussels, Michel described the talks as “frank and fruitful”. He said that the sides agreed on the first joint meeting of the Border Commissions in days to come to address the border delimitation issue, as well as unblocking transport links. Moreover, the leaders decided to go on with discussing a future peace treaty to end the enmity and bring peace and predictability to the region, vowing the EU's unwavering support for both nations' efforts to advance the peace agenda.
In a telephone conversation with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan right after the Brussels meeting, the Azerbaijani leader described the result of the third meeting as positive.
Aliyev further added that a presidential order was issued to establish the State Commission on the delimitation of the state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, adding that Baku and Yerevan also agreed to open the Zangazur corridor, that is, the construction of both railways and highways.
Erdogan, for his part, emphasized the need of attaining regional peace as quickly as possible.
However, Moscow appears to be unhappy about the EU's rising clout in the Azerbaijan-Armenia peace process since the Kremlin does not want to relinquish its ubiquitous role in the region, particularly in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
Following the latest Brussels meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov felt compelled to contact his Azerbaijani and Armenian colleagues to remind them of the trilateral declarations for the resolution of the conflict, thus, indirectly highlighting the Kremlin's involvement in the process.
In a telephone conversation on May 23, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Lavrov swapped views on the current regional situation, mulled issues related to the implementation of the trilateral statements, including the opening of all communication lines in the region, the delimitation of the state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia as reported by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
On the same day, the top Russian diplomat in a phone conversation with the Armenian opposite side also discussed the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, as well as touched upon the points of the trilateral statements of November 10, 2020, January 11, and November 26, 2021, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
The ministers also considered the formation of a commission on the delimitation and security of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the establishment of economic ties, and the unblocking of communications in the region, the report further added.
Furthermore, as narratives from the contacts show, both Russia and Armenia are keen on resurrecting the OSCE Minsk Group and getting it re-involved in the process, in which it was involved for nearly 30 years but to no avail.
On the other hand, Baku has been categorically against the resuscitation of the still-born intermediaries following the nation's brilliant win in the second Karabakh war, which was possible through the combination of the leader, the army, and the nation formula.
Similarly, the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and the intense hatred between the West and the Kremlin, generated by it, accelerated yet undeclared demise of the Minsk Group. What is clear at this point is that the discrepancy between the two poles would further deepen, making the revival of the group impossible although Armenia's futile attempts are there to bring the peace process under the mediation of the Minsk Group again.
In the same vein, after the Brussels breakthrough, as some described it, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan also discussed Karabakh with Andrzej Kasprzyk, the personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
As the press release of the Armenian government said during the meeting, they discussed issues related to the situation in the region and the work to unblock transport communications. The two men also talked about a comprehensive solution to the Karabakh issue. In this context Grigoryan noted the role of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, the same source claimed.
Turkey, on the other hand, as a regional power, once again stated the vitality of the prompt resolution of the conflict and full restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity as stipulated by international laws. Another regional actor - Iran also expressed support for the principles of international law in the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In pursuit of its own national interest, Iran through Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Tehran backed the outcome of the Azerbaijani-Armenian talks in Brussels.
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