Azerbaijan-Armenia peace has become closer without mediators
    Belarus pundit on Caliber.Az

    ANALYTICS  11 December 2023 - 10:17

    Serhey Bohdan
    Caliber.Az

    The information about direct negotiations between the Azerbaijani presidential administration and the Armenian prime minister’s office went viral on December 7. Baku insists on dialogue in such a format while Yerevan, which relied on involving external players in the normalisation of the situation in the region, avoided the dialogue.

    Bilateral diplomacy not only brought both peoples closer to peace, it had an immediate effect on those external players with whom the Armenian revanchist circles were persistently colluding. The US diplomat’s arrival in Baku can be mentioned as an example.

    Don't be a menace to South Caucasus while drinking your juice in the hood

    This cause-and-effect relationship looks possible. Having found out that Baku managed to enter into bilateral negotiations with Yerevan, Washington sent its representative to Azerbaijan on December 6. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien was chosen for this mission. O'Brien has recently threatened to stop military cooperation with Azerbaijan in line with a legislative act adopted in 1992. Then, at the peak of territorial occupation by Armenian nationalists, the US decided to support them. During a hearing in the US parliament, O'Brien has recently spoken about an “investigation” of the allegedly forced resettlement of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region and actually urged Baku to abandon the plans for the development of routes between Nakhchivan and the rest part of Azerbaijan (objecting to the construction of such routes through Iran, the US authorities do not show any intention to help, for example, with the Zangezur corridor - in fact, the restoration of ancient routes passing through Armenia).

    However, there is nothing to be surprised. O'Brien, along with Administrator of the US Agency for International Development Samantha Power, is considered the main founders of the US policy regarding Karabakh separatism. Both of them mention the massacre of Muslims by Christians in Bosnia that they saw in their youth. However, neither of them wants to know about similar massacre in the South Caucasus, on which Karabakh separatism was based. However, the irony of history is that sooner or later everyone has to face reality. By theatrically threatening Baku, both US officials are forced to deal with Baku and change their attitude. The reality of the defeat of the Armenian nationalists pursuing aggressive policy is obvious.

    O'Brien, having arrived in Azerbaijan on December 6, spoke in a completely different tone. He said that “the head of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani energy minister are expected to visit the US while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hopes to soon receive the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan in Washington for peace talks soon”. Moreover, Blinken personally asked Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to receive his envoy.

    Were negotiations or visits held first?

    It is important not to forget about the context of these trips. The first aspect, namely, the gradual progress of the Azerbaijani side in establishing bilateral negotiations with Yerevan, has appeared in recent weeks. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry offered the Armenian side on November 21 to hold negotiations on a joint border as soon as possible on this border as befits neighbours rather than somewhere else.

    Indeed, the first public bilateral meeting was held between the Azerbaijani and Armenian authorities on November 30 after the dissolution of separatist organisations in the Karabakh region. The meeting was held at the level of deputy prime ministers of the two countries - Shahin Mustafayev and Mher Grigoryan.

    The information went viral only about general agreements as a result of the negotiations, but as we see, they were fruitful - otherwise they would not have been continued this week. The matter rested in one of the most difficult issues of the normalisation of the situation — the border issue at the bilateral negotiations.

    The positive dynamics in contacts has continued this week. The sides made a joint statement and agreed on the exchange of prisoners of war, although limited, but symbolic interaction in the international arena (within another Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

    It is not surprising that global players have seen that the Azerbaijanis began to negotiate with the Armenians without them. So, they can sign a peace treaty without them. The Armenian leadership stated on November 10 that 70 per cent of the treaty was agreed upon. Superpowers may be left without their geopolitical profit for “mediation”.

    Thus, their interest in Azerbaijan arose. Not only US diplomats intend to invite Azerbaijani representatives to talk to Armenians in the US, the Russian media outlets report again about the possibility of a meeting between President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan at an informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg in late December.

    By putting pressure on Pashinyan through the situation at the Upper Lars checkpoint, which is extremely important for Armenia, the Kremlin clearly wants to convince him to come. At the same time, it turned out that a possible meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Brussels through the mediation of President of the European Council Charles Michel is also being discussed.

    Political maniacs

    Besides the recent success in bilateral negotiations, long-term Azerbaijani efforts to neutralise attempts by the Armenian side and foreign allies of the revanchists to force Baku to talk to the “support group”, namely, Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, NGOs and activists, rather than to the Armenian leadership, also played a role in changing the position of the superpowers.

    This often required the Azerbaijani leadership to respond harshly to even the most eminent Western leaders - regardless of title, but guided by Azerbaijan’s interests. Everyone still remembers President Aliyev’s refusal to go to the summit in Granada, and he has recently explained his decision, pointing out that on the eve of the negotiations planned to be held within the summit, in an interview with journalists President Macron spoke in an unacceptable way about Azerbaijan, after which it has become absurd to mention France as a neutral mediator.

    As we see, Baku’s well-founded and balanced position in protecting its interests fully justified itself. The French side had to come to terms with its own diplomatic defeat, suffered as a result of Macron’s demagoguery and great imperial arrogance. The Azerbaijanis simply moved on without any warnings from Western countries.

    Of course, such incidents were repeatedly observed. It is important to note the readiness of the Azerbaijani authorities to react restrainedly but clearly to such actions.

    EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell again decided to hint to the Armenian revanchists at the EU NGO forum on December 4, saying that “the outcome of the frozen Armenia-Azerbaijan Karabakh conflict was resolved by military intervention, as a result of which 150,000 people had to leave their houses during a week. We see the resumption of brutal power politics. More conflicts are resolved through force. This should have been banned”.

    The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry immediately pointed out that the EU official’s insinuations are unacceptable, as they call into question the mediation efforts of the EU, in particular European Council President Charles Michel, in the region.

    “This is not just manipulation of figures, this is an accusation of committing acts that we did not commit. I am completely dissatisfied with the EU’s policy and attitude towards Azerbaijan, as this is unfair and it is not in the EU’s interests. There is also the destructive activity of some members of the European Parliament “behave like maniacs, because their anti-Azerbaijani sentiments and statements go beyond the normal psychological state of a person,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said.

    In this regard, President Aliyev focused on the self-destructive nature of the policy of world powers. For example, Azerbaijan is faced with the EU officials’ actions, although it is successfully developing cooperation with the EU. The country does not seek to join the EU, but resolves strategic issues with this union on which the economy of this union depends.

    The president noted that the US policy towards Azerbaijan is also contradictory. Despite long-term successful interaction, “this [Biden] administration has brought them to naught,” and its representatives openly say that US relations with Azerbaijan “will not be the same as before”. Moreover, Washington wants to become a platform for negotiations between Baku and Yerevan, but at the same time threatens to ban senior Azerbaijani officials from visiting the US.

    Third wheel

    While realising the destructive activity of the great powers, Baku insists that negotiations with Yerevan must be bilateral. The Azerbaijani leadership is aware of the development of revanchist sentiments in Armenia and the role of some Western countries in these processes.

    Therefore, while speaking at the international forum “Karabakh: Back Home after 30 years. Accomplishments and Challenges” in Baku, President Aliyev emphasised that “Azerbaijan needs guarantees that there will be no attempts of revanchism in Armenia. We would like no war between the two countries, and there should be guarantees in this regard”.

    Irresponsible politicians and officials in France, as well as in the US, make promises to revanchist groups in Armenia that, in fact, are not backed by anything and only hinder the peace process in the region. None of these countries has any intention of making a serious bet on Armenia and this is not our philosophical conclusion. This is an objective conclusion even while rapidly considering the real results of Armenia’s cooperation with them in the most basic field for these issues – military sphere.

    It is necessary to consider the world experience. Even during the Cold War, with its tough ideological battles, the global confrontation is in the background in a number of regions, while the events develop under the influence of regional factors. The Indo-Pakistani conflicts and the Arab-Israeli wars can be mentioned as an example.

    Proceeding from the international relations, the “Copenhagen School”, based on the recognition of the fact that processes in regions are important, often more important than global confrontation, appeared. Today we are still far from the heightened stage of the Cold War, and therefore regional dynamics play a more important role.

    The South Caucasus is one of the most difficult and confusing regions for external intervention. Intervention by outside forces is generally possible in this region. We mean is that it is extremely difficult for outside forces to achieve the desired result here. It turns out to be difficult for outsiders to get out of Caucasian issues. Such a procedure as “entry is cheap while exit is expensive” is used.

    This is a region in which its people can and must ultimately restore order. Proceeding from the history, the Persian and Ottoman empires, which were well aware of the regional affairs, refrained from unnecessary interference in Caucasian affairs, even when the region was part of them. All current Western powers, Germany, France, UK, the US tried to invade the region a hundred years ago, attracted by the smell of Baku oil, but they lost.

    The current promises of outside superpowers given to Armenia, as well as their threats against Azerbaijan, time after time turn out to be a sham and a bluff. The Azerbaijani government rightly rejects them as soon as they begin to threaten the country’s vital interests.

    In this regard, we remind a wise parable from the classical Arabic literature “Kalilah and Dimnah”:

    “Once pigeons built a nest for themselves in a high tree and began to hatch their babies. However, a fox appears under the palm tree, makes noise, threatens the pigeons, that it will climb the palm tree and attack them if they do not give their babies. Those, in fear, give their babies to the greedy fox. One day a heron flew to the palm tree and, seeing the sad pigeons, asked about the reason. They told it about the fox. The heron taught them: “If fox comes again and starts threatening, tell it: “We won’t give you our babies. If you want, climb a palm tree and do whatever you want.” The fox came and the pigeons did as the heron taught them. The fox made some noise, threatened the pigeons, and then left.”

    Baku understood long ago that there is no need to be afraid of noisy “foxes” under various flags. Therefore, Azerbaijan began to strengthen its positions in the region. However, more insightful Armenian nationalists understand that the West will not determine the order in the South Caucasus.

    Armenian political analyst Argishti Kiviryan has noted that politics in Armenia is influenced by neighbouring countries. “The political processes in Armenia are dictated by Baku, rather than by superpowers, Türkiye”. The situation is described incorrectly and with a clear desire to disgrace peace supporters. Kiviryan stands against Pashinyan.

    There is some truth in his words. All over the world, political processes are often influenced by events in neighbouring countries. Only the Armenian elites are constantly trying to adapt their policy to the desires of one or another foreign superpower. Azerbaijan wants something different, and more constructive - for important political processes to take place in the neighbouring country, and for its politicians, instead of colluding with the superpowers, to join the restoration of a historically united, inclusive South Caucasus.

    Caliber.Az

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