Baku’s confidence, the constructive role of the EU and… Moscow’s jealousy – Aze.Media
Azerbaijan is moving its agenda forward with confidence, both on the ground and at the negotiating table. The “offensive diplomacy” of President Ilham Aliyev and the actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces are merged into a single strategy, and Armenia has nothing to counter it. The Brussels meeting took place after Lachin and the villages of Zabukh and Sus were returned to Azerbaijani control. Despite recent attempts to revive the format of the Minsk Group, this failing organization is not mentioned at all in the text of the post-meeting statement. Yerevan has once again failed to put the question of the “status of Karabakh” back on the agenda. What was mentioned, however, was the unblocking of communications, the delimitation and demarcation of borders and, above all, the start of concrete work on the text of a peace treaty – based on the five principles proposed by Azerbaijan, which Armenia had been forced to accept.
Finally, the very fact that the European Union, as a mediator, is encouraging work on a peace treaty shows that the capital of united Europe, like Baku, believes that the conflict is already over and that it is time to start building normal relationships and long-term peace.
Pashinyan’s press service tried to sweeten the pill by proudly reporting that “the Nagorno-Karabakh issue” was discussed at the trilateral meeting. However, even the Telegram channels linked to the separatist leaders are forced to admit that “Charles Michel’s statement after the meeting did not mention the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in any way. Furthermore, the statement by the head of the European Council refers to Armenian “detainees”, not “prisoners of war”, essentially using the rhetoric of the Azerbaijani authorities. Translation: another spectacular failure of Armenian diplomacy, certainly not the first, and certainly not the last.
The EU, too, can add the results of the talks to its list of achievements. In his final statement, Michel mentioned the relations of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the EU as one of the topics of the talks. One can hardly speak seriously of Armenia, which is completely dependent on Russia and has already fucked its European partners when it promised to sign an association agreement with the EU in 2013, but then joined the EAEU in the place. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani President visited Italy after the talks in Brussels, and Bulgaria plans to buy Azerbaijani gas through the new interconnector… In this context, the impressive success of EU mediation does not leave no doubt: the EU is becoming influential in the South Caucasus, and it is entering the region through the Azerbaijani “gate”. The EU confidently assumes mediation on issues such as border demarcation, open communications, etc. principles were once discussed in the EU capital, and details were worked out mainly in Moscow, now Brussels is pushing its mediating role here too.
This fact seems to vex Russia endlessly. Ahead of the Brussels meeting, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova grumbled during a regular briefing: “EU activity in the South Caucasus is shaped by its geopolitical ambitions and, in our opinion, has nothing to do with the real desire to contribute to the normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations. Then she continues: “I would even say that these are pseudo-initiatives of the Europeans. They are more like a cheeky attempt to take credit for mediation, laurels with nothing underneath. We work as mediators, and this work produces concrete results and is valued by the parties. Even more telling is the flurry of publications in the Russian media with eloquent titles like “Karabakh discussed outside Moscow”, “Temptation by Brussels”, etc.
We will refrain from ironies and ask ourselves what “concrete results” Mrs. Zakharova is talking about, if during the year and a half of the stay of Russian blue helmets in Karabakh, the Armenian armed forces were not withdrawn and not had to move after Azerbaijan’s Operation Vengeance. We will not ask why the Zangezur corridor, stipulated in the same trilateral declaration, was not opened (for all the, shall we say, unprecedented influence of Moscow over Yerevan), and why Russia obediently suspended even the demarcation of the border according to General Staff Maps, yielding to the whims of Armenia.
No, what is more remarkable is this. Of course, Zakharova’s irritation and even the Russian media’s obvious green light to reject European mediation in Karabakh can be explained by the strained relations between Russia and the EU, but only in part. Much more important is the “block thinking” once again demonstrated in Smolensk Square. They seem to think that the South Caucasus is a kind of their backyard and they are fully convinced that decisions about who is allowed to participate in political processes in the region and who is not should be made on the banks of the Moskva River. Moreover, for more than a quarter of a century, Karabakh was seen by Moscow as an ideal means to put pressure on both Baku and Yerevan. If the conflict is resolved safely and fully, this means of manipulation will be gone. This will be the reason for the presence of Russian blue helmets. Last but not least, they must be aware that events are unfolding, to put it mildly, in favor of Russia’s favorite outpost, Armenia, which first suffered military defeat and is now suffering a diplomatic defeat.
Whether Russia is trying to “actively torpedo” EU mediation, while acting on behalf of and through Armenia, is another matter. But let’s remember: there were already attempts to play such games in the region after the 44-day war, and it was Armenia that had to pay dearly for its share. Azerbaijan continues to pursue its post-conflict settlement program with confidence. And yes, it’s not just about Brussels.
Translated by Minval.Az