The minister of foreign affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said in a press briefing that the Armenian side has not given up on the agenda of Vienna and Saint Petersburg, added to it Dushanbe and it is calm at the border.
The agenda of Vienna and Saint Petersburg has become a mantra in the public and political life which is repeated regularly without trying to go deep into the essence of the issue.
The point is that Vienna and Saint Petersburg are, in fact, contradictory agendas, and the purpose of what happened in Saint Petersburg was subordination of what had happened in Vienna. The meeting in Vienna took place after the four-day war in April where the priority was the ceasefire, international investigation mechanism which supposed monitoring devices along the border. The agenda of Vienna was under the American aegis.
Saint Petersburg took place a month later, under the Russian aegis, and its concluding statement did not mention the mechanism of investigation but expressed readiness to increase the number of staff of the office of OSCE observers. Aliyev agreed to this to disagree to Vienna.
Interestingly, during the press conference in Yerevan following the meeting in Saint Petersburg the French ambassador in Armenia stated that though there was no word about the international mechanism of investigation this is their priority. In the same context, he stated that France is ready to organize the third meeting as soon as possible. However, the third meeting took place maximum late, a year and a half later, in October 2017 in Geneva during which Saint Petersburg and Vienna were not mentioned at all.
On the other hand, what was Vienna in the deeper sense of the word? It should be noted that the meeting held 1.5 month after the four-day war in April was under the U.S. aegis. The point is that Azerbaijan launched the April offensive when Aliyev and Sargsyan were both in the United States.
The U.S. President Barack Obama had invited them to attend the Nuclear Summit. In addition, interestingly Aliyev had been invited to the United States for the first time. Earlier the media and experts discussed that by inviting Aliyev the United States will try to resolve the issue of introduction of international mechanism of ceasefire in the Sargsyan-Aliyev format and intends to be firm on this. Apparently, Washington was trying to be firm in preventing the possible military consequence of the immense Russian-Azerbaijani strategic and defense cooperation, in other words, to prevent attempts to implement the military implementation of the Kazan plan. Moreover, it should not be ruled out that there was information about the upcoming offensive. In addition, Nikol Pashinyan stated that he has read hundreds of pages of classified material after he became prime minister and there is no word about the absence of reconnaissance data.
There was no Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Washington but this draws attention to the fact that Azerbaijan attacked immediately after the summit in Washington when Aliyev stepped off the plane in Azerbaijan.
Did Baku thereby decline Washington’s rigid proposal? Or did the United States have information about the intention for a bigger attack than the April offensive therefore, in order to prevent this, they invited Aliyev to impose a ceasefire mechanism or forcing Azerbaijan to not start the attack in full scale, causing Baku to hurry and pushing it to make mistakes.
At least, the resistance of the Armenian army transformed Azerbaijan mistake to not just a shortcoming but a major political and military mistake. Afterwards, the United States put forth the issue of stationing mechanisms of investigation in Vienna. The point is that this was not in the interests of Azerbaijan and Russia because it actually neutralized Russia’s dominant position in managing the situation.
The joint Russian-Azerbaijani resistance was organized in Saint Petersburg which was enabled by the police station standoff a month later contributed to its success.
Nevertheless, Moscow and Baku were able to deactivate the Vienna agenda, reducing the situation to Geneva in 2017 where Vienna was not mentioned at all. However, it was impossible to withdraw the political situation from this logic, especially that as the field commander Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan stated in an interview in 2017, the Armenian positions were equipped with surveillance equipment with the American support, boosting the preventive capacity of the Armenian armed forces.
Azerbaijan’s first attempt to “check” them out ended up in February 2017 when the attack cost 5 lives of the Azerbaijani special troops.
The ceasefire mechanisms or the Vienna agenda was actually implemented at the Armenian front line, with the U.S. support, as well as with Russia’s consent, because thereby Moscow significantly freed itself of the Azerbaijani-Turkish pressure.
At the end of the day, the agenda of Vienna has played its role not in the main sense of the word but immediately after the April four-day war the bar was raised for Azerbaijan and Russia. On the other hand, they were enabled to step back paying a political price of this, giving up on military provocations.
In this context, the Armenian side did not speak about the Vienna agenda, neither during Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency nor under the new government, because Baku still refrains from attacks. At the same time, after the Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting in Davos the foreign minister Mnatsakanyan recalls it. In addition, after the meeting with Aliyev Pashinyan got a telephone call from John Bolton, and in Moscow Putin had no time to meet with Pashinyan, hence Putin turned Erdogan and Aliyev down through Pashinyan.