Azerbaijani & Armenian FM Hold Seven-Hour-Long Meeting To Agree Principles On Karabakh Solution

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 31 January 2020
Azerbaijani & Armenian FM Hold Seven-Hour-Long Meeting To Agree Principles On Karabakh Solution

In Geneva, for three-days in late January, the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan respectively discussed the protracted and the bloodiest ever Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus that has been in the active phase for around 30 years.

However, the history of the Armenian claims to the indigenous Azerbaijani lands has been since early XX century with local clashes registered in Karabakh sometimes after Azerbaijan let Armenians coming from regional countries to settle down in the mountainous part of Karabakh in XIX century. Azerbaijan also handed over Iravan (Yerevan) – also the historical Azerbaijani town to Armenians to make it their capital city in 1918.

In a nutshell, the history of the last 30-35 years of the developments in Nagorno-Karabakh is pretty well-known to our readers and we would not delve into it but focus on the first meeting between the two warring nations in 2020 mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a conflict over the latter's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which, along with seven surrounding districts, came under the control of Armenians in the early 1990s. Peace talks between Baku and Yerevan have been mediated by France, Russia, and the United States in their capacity as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The meeting of Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office took place in Geneva on 28-30 January 2020.

The meeting in Geneva was marked with the most intensive discussions held between the sides over the recent years. The sides held thorough discussions over the agenda items presented by the co-chairs. This includes firstly, the issues related to the implementation of agreements and proposals discussed in 2019, particularly the humanitarian exchanges for preparation of the populations of both countries for peace, second, the basic principles and elements of the settlement process, in particular, the resolution of the conflict based on the provisions and principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and lastly, the ways of further intensification of the settlement process.

In this regard, the ministers agreed to meet again in the near future, reads a statement of the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.

The Geneva meeting was held with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Igor Popov (Russia), Stefan Visconti (France) and Andrew Chaufer (USA), as well as personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk in presence.

“During the meeting, the parties discussed a wide range of issues related to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. The meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the mediation of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in Geneva lasted seven hours, the head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Leyla Abdullayeva, wrote in a post on her Twitter page.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, knowingly and unknowingly, told everyone what talks are going on in his latest press conference, saying that on the negotiating table the return of the occupied areas to Azerbaijan, the return of refugees and the status of Karabakh , but he attributed all this to the previous leadership.

“Whatever leadership is in Armenia, it should be based on previous agreements. By the way, the OSCE Minsk Group chairmen condemned this statement of him, as he revealed the details of the negotiation process, since he should not have done so. This suggests that discussions are now concentrated around these agreements. It’s impossible to discuss general topics for seven hours,” Strati experts opine.

It is naturally not beneficial for the Armenian side to open what is being discussed behind closed doors, and they always say that security, armistice, and sniper removal issues are discussed, including de-occupation issues.

Therefore, Strati pundits think that seven-hour-long talks discussed these agreements, just how the agreements will be implemented, time will tell. The Armenian side chooses tactics discussing all the topics of the negotiations, give an intermediate agreement, and then drag out the time. Strati thinks that the Armenians are dragging out time and it is not beneficial for them to resolve the issue in the near future, since they have domestic political turbulence and elections in the separatist region, so they will need to extend the time as long as possible.

To recap, Strati predicts that French President Manuel Macron’s telephone call to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was likely the result of tangible progress made possible during three-day negotiations. Macros was the first to call Baku and it is expected that other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group countries would follow suit and make telephone calls to Yerevan and Baku to persuade them on building. The analyst also added that Macron’s call shows the fact that there are certain agreements, and the French side, as a co-chair, is interested in ensuring that these agreements are implemented or that some progress is recorded.