The Minsk Group co-chairs have issued a statement on their regional visit relaying the readiness of Prime Minister Pashinyan and the Azerbaijani President Aliyev. The co-chairs did not inform when and where their meeting is planned.
Does this mean that during the visit to Yerevan and Baku Pashinyan and Aliyev were not presented with specific options but the general agreement was discussed which may mean for its part that the co-chairs must prepare more specific proposals on the time and place of the meeting with the Armenian prime minister and the Azerbaijani president.
At the same, it is possible that the co-chairs still need to align and process the agreement of the Armenian Prime Minister and the Azerbaijani President with their “supervisors” which may mean that the meeting will become more specific in terms of time and space after separate meetings with the Armenian Prime Minister and the Azerbaijani President which may be on different occasions and in different formats.
The statement of the co-chairs is interesting not only in this context but also in the context of the statements that were made during the visit of the Armenian Prime Minister to Iran and the visit of the director of National Security to Artsakh.
In Tehran Nikol Pashinyan stated during the meeting with the Armenian community that the meetings with Ilham Aliyev have no agenda and it is possible to consider negotiations only in case the government of Artsakh becomes a side in the negotiations.
Along with Pashinyan’s Iranian visit the director of the National Security Service Artur Vanetsyan visited Artsakh. Together with President Bako Sahakyan he visited the Artsakh-Iranian border, spoke about the project of populating the area called Araksavan and made an unprecedented statement. Artur Vanetsyan stated during a meeting with the head of state of Artsakh and the army command that “we have no land to give away” and, on the contrary, “our compatriots must live on our land and prosper”.
Following these statements, the statement of the Minsk Group co-chairs is issued, a few days after their regional visit. Have the statements of official Yerevan accelerated the statement of the co-chairs?
Baku responded to Nikol Pashinyan’s Iranian statements in an expected way, stating that Azerbaijan will never negotiate with Artsakh. However, the Armenian prime minister’s statement in Isfahan creates a totally new situation. He actually states that Yerevan is not negotiating now, only speaking, and there will be negotiations only if Artsakh fully joins.
In this case the question occurs what Aliyev does when he meets with Pashinyan if Pashinyan states that he is not negotiating. It will be possible to negotiate only with Artsakh. Hence, if the Azerbaijani president agrees to a meeting with Nikol Pashinyan mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs, does this mean that Aliyev has accepted the logic put forth by Pashinyan and agrees to meet without negotiating.
Or did the co-chairs state after the statements of the Armenian prime minister that Pashinyan and Aliyev agree and cornered Baku who should have given consent before Pashinyan’s departure for Iran, and the statement of the director of National Security Service in Artsakh.
It is possible that the co-chairs did not intend to make a statement about an agreement to meet until there are more specific details and agreement on time and place but after Yerevan’s statements they hurry to speak up before Baku rejects a meeting referring to them.All these are assumptions because, as always, there is no information for precise analysis.
In a deeper sense, however, what will Baku do but meet? Would it go for a war? Baku does not think about other things and does not meet for other things and perhaps this is the only circumstance with regard to which there are no secrets. In this sense, the primary job was and will be resilience in terms of defense and political and diplomatic viability and efficiency.
In fact, Yerevan has stepped on this path and is moving on steadily, which is the path for at least relative stability and peace. Interestingly, the Minsk Group co-chairs hurried to respond to the steps of the Armenian side on this path.