Potential breakthrough in Azerbaijan-Armenia relations
    Crucial Almaty peace talks

    INTERVIEWS  10 May 2024 - 13:15

    Samir Ibrahimov

    Today's meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is of crucial importance as it will take place against the backdrop of intensive diplomatic efforts to resolve long-standing disputes between the two countries. As the Armenian Foreign Ministry reported earlier, "discussions will focus on finalizing mutual commitments, as well as revitalizing regional transport infrastructure and trade routes".

    Currently, negotiations are underway directly between the two countries, marking a significant shift in the negotiating dynamics. Kazakhstan will not act as a mediator at the upcoming meeting, but as an organizer and platform, reflecting the preference of Baku and Yerevan to negotiate in a bilateral format. Interestingly, the sides agreed to President Tokayev's proposal to use his country as a negotiating platform. Could Almaty be a breakthrough in the dynamics of the peace talks? How important is it that Armenia and Azerbaijan have settled on the bilateral format of negotiations as the only correct one?

    Prominent foreign experts responded to questions from Caliber.Az.

    Gaziz Abishev, a political analyst from Kazakhstan, said that the breakthrough can be conditioned only by the political will of the two governments and not by the venue of the negotiations.

    "Kazakhstan is simply convenient as a neutral but interested (for humanitarian and pragmatic reasons) in the speedy resolution of the conflict. Baku and Yerevan know each other well, understand each other, all the initial data are known. The only question is to work out an acceptable compromise. There is no need for mediators. So, yes, the decision is correct," the expert believes.

    In his turn, Russian expert on the South Caucasus Konstantin Tasits noted that earlier Armenia has always been in favor of negotiations with the involvement of mediators.

    "After the 44-day war, along with Russia, there were the United States, the European Union and some European countries. Obviously, Ilham Aliyev found arguments to convince Nikol Pashinyan to make concessions and continue the process bilaterally, using the platform in Kazakhstan. At the same time, the topics of discussion remain generally the same as those laid down in the trilateral agreements between the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. They include opening communications and restoring economic ties, delimitation and demarcation of the border, preparing society for peace, etc.," the political scientist says.

    As rightly noted, there are encouraging signals that indicate the settlement is advancing, Tasits added.

    "The parties supported each other on the COP29 climate conference. The process of border delimitation has begun. Nevertheless, mutual distrust and hatred persist in both Azerbaijani and Armenian societies. Part of the society in Armenia, especially the residents of the border territories, fear that once the border is defined, they will not receive any real guarantees of security and opportunities for economic development. In this regard, protests are taking place in the republic.

    To achieve positive results, it is not so much the format of the negotiations that is important, but their content, so that the final agreements are acceptable to both sides," the Russian pundit noted.

    Kazakh political scientist Kazbek Beisebayev notes that when a third party is involved in bilateral negotiations, it always has some kind of interest of its own.

    "There is nothing new in this, it always happens like this. If Baku and Yerevan decided to negotiate on their own, it means that they are not interested in the participation of others. It should be mentioned that before these talks, Kazakh President Tokayev visited Azerbaijan and Armenia, where he held talks with his counterparts. Apparently, during these visits the sides agreed and chose Almaty as a negotiating platform. It should also be noted that both Tokayev and Aliyev are international professionals and, to put it bluntly, are very well versed in these matters.

    I believe that Almaty will be a successful platform and the parties will agree on the key issues. I am sure that many are interested in success in Almaty, especially in Central Asia," Beisebayev concluded.


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