Washington meeting turns bad for Yerevan
By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The results of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Washington gave Yerevan a reason to reflect on its behavior.
The fact that at the negotiating table there were questions on which Azerbaijan insists, attracts special attention. In particular, substantive negotiations aimed at achieving concrete results, which is the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In turn, Armenia is trying to avoid a substantive agenda by posing strange demands on the table, which sound almost ultimatum. The stubborn and insistent demand of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to invite Karabakh separatists to the negotiating table is among this category. This condition is accepted neither by Azerbaijan nor by intermediaries. The ultimatum put forward by Yerevan hampers the negotiation process and indefinitely postpones the discussion of the settlement agenda itself.
The fact that in its statement after the Washington meeting, the OSCE Minsk Group drew attention to the need for a transition to substantive negotiations is positive. This can be called the defeat of the occupying country, which hoped to transfer the negotiation process to the direction desired by Armenia. The Armenian side, putting forward impracticable demands, is trying to gain time to strengthen its position, but it is inexorably weakening while Azerbaijan strengthens.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani side has repeatedly stated that Baku will not discuss the involvement of separatists in the process, and the specific points of the proposals on the negotiating table regarding the conflict settlement should be the topic of discussion. The new Armenian authorities had a whole year to get acquainted with the situation and develop a constructive position on Karabakh issue. Time has passed, and no reasonable steps towards peace have been taken by Yerevan.
The "new" Armenia, just like the Serzh Sargsyan’s Karabakh clan, shows no desire for constructivism. Speaking in Parliament on June 20, Nikol Pashinyan made a number of militant statements, almost threatening Azerbaijan with war. On June 21, at the event on the occasion of the police day, he said that "all the enemies of Armenia will be unconditionally defeated."
Surprisingly, it seems to Pashinyan that the negotiations are going in a constructive direction, and the Azerbaijani side is trying to prevent this. So, a year was not enough for the Armenian Prime Minister to get acquainted with the process. In addition, he clearly lacks an adequate perception of reality. Otherwise, he would not have claimed that Armenian diplomacy is "becoming more effective" when speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
In fact, the Armenian diplomacy has suffered a complete collapse. If under the previous regime this was somehow hidden from the eyes of the public, Pashinyan is a bad diplomat, and all his actions are in plain sight. Experts are terrified of his ultimate perseverance in the attempts to expand the negotiation format. These moments discrediting Armenia in the settlement process testify to its weakness, not to its strength.
Armenian expert David Shahnazaryan has recently bitterly stated that today the pre-April 2016 agenda and the term "substantive negotiations" have returned to the negotiating table. That is, the negotiators no longer discuss the notorious "investigation mechanisms" and "confidence-building measures", which the Armenian side, frightened by the April defeat, managed to get on the agenda. Instead, the term "substantive negotiations" came back into use.
The expert told Armenian reporters that there are substantive negotiations exclusively around the settlement, which means return of territories to Azerbaijan.
Thus, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ statement on the need to create a favorable atmosphere for a return to substantive negotiations, made after the Washington meeting of foreign ministers, suggests that there will be no return to the past.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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