Azerbaijan 'ready' for EU-mediated talks with Armenia in Brussels

AFP , Thursday 5 Oct 2023

Azerbaijan said Thursday it was willing to attend EU-mediated talks with Armenia in Brussels, two weeks after its forces took control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in a lightning offensive.

File photo: Two woman enter their house past a shrine to a relative soldier killed during the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh/Armenia, in the old city in Baku on September 27, 2023. AFP


Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev had a day earlier turned down talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan which were due to be mediated by France, Germany and European Council President Charles Michel in Spain.

European leaders, who have taken a growing role in the Caucasus, had hoped to host Aliyev's first meeting with Pashinyan since Azerbaijan's military offensive.

"Azerbaijan stands ready for tripartite meetings in Brussels soon in the format of the European Union, Azerbaijan and Armenia," presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said on social media.

He said Baku "supports the tripartite Brussels process and the regional peace agenda in the format of the European Union, Azerbaijan and Armenia" as well as bilateral "peace treaty talks" with Yerevan.

Russia, the traditional power in the region, has been bogged down in its assault in Ukraine and Europe has increasingly started mediating the decades-old dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Moscow refused to intervene when Azerbaijan in late September launched its one-day offensive, during which hundreds were killed and thousands were forced to flee.


Hajiyev said it was "incorrect to present" Aliyev's no show as a "refusal" to hold talks with Armenia.

France's "militarisation policy" in the Caucasus, the European Union's attitude towards the region, and the absence of Turkey -- a traditional ally of Azerbaijan -- pushed Baku to snub the meeting, he said.

Paris has pledged military support to Yerevan in the wake of Azerbaijan's offensive, but has not elaborated on what this entails.

Armenia and Azerbaijan meanwhile accused each other of opening cross-border fire Thursday.

Armenia was relying on Russia as its security guarantor but Pashinyan has increasingly questioned Russia's historic role as his small country's main security guarantor.

He has been critical of Moscow's refusal to intervene during Azerbaijan's offensive and has described the security alliance with Russia as "ineffective."

Moscow has said that Armenia has no alternative to a Russia-led security alliance known as the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Azerbaijan's takeover of the region was "inevitable", adding: "It was only a matter of time before Azerbaijan started to restore constitutional order there."

Pashinyan meets Zelensky

But Pashinyan -- who has faced criticism at home over the crisis -- travelled to Granada to meet with European leaders despite Aliyev's absence.

For the first time, Pashinyan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is at war with Russia.

Zelensky posted a photograph of the pair talking in Granada and said they had discussed the situation in the Caucasus.

"Ukraine is interested in the region's stability and friendly relations with its nations," Zelensky said on social media.

Armenia has remained neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but tensions are emerging with Moscow.

Last month, Russia summoned Yerevan's ambassador over -- amongst other things -- a trip to Kyiv by Pashinyan's wife to deliver aid.

The meeting between Pashinyan and Zelensky came two days after the Armenian parliament moved to join the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The move angered Moscow, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling it the "wrong decision".

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