Experts in Baku are disappointed with the meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in Moscow. The concluding statement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs mentioned the determination to initiate humanitarian actions. In particular, no shooting during the farming season, as well as allowing visits of relatives to those held in custody in Armenia and Azerbaijan were listed. The press secretary of the president of Artsakh stated that Stepanakert is ready to accept the relatives of the Azerbaijanis detained in Artsakh.
The Armenian experts say that Yerevan is trying to shift the settlement onto a humanitarian path. Baku is dissatisfied and says that the statement following the meeting does not mention the “withdrawal of Armenian troops” and other issues on the Azerbaijani agenda.
“Armenia puts forth issues relating to status and security. The primary issue for us is the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories and the return of those displaced to their native territories. The discussions were on these four issues, a decision was made to continue the negotiations,” the minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammedyarov stated.
Baku claims that Moscow is trying to restore its dominant mediation role. After the meeting Mammedyarov stated that the “discussions were on the plan proposed by Russia in 2016.” Baku writes that the point is not about Lavrov but about the Medvedev plan.
What did Medvedev propose on 7-8 April 2016 when he visited Yerevan and Baku two days after the ceasefire? In Baku, he said that if he were to choose between a frozen conflict and the value of human life put on the altar of settlement, he would choose the second because it is better to maintain the situation that exists rather than shed blood. “In other words, let the situation that is there remain as it is but no blood be shed,” Dmitri Medvedev said. In addition, he stated that Russia will continue its defense cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and supplies from other countries may complicate the situation in the region.
Medvedev’s visit to the region and his statements about continuing military cooperation with Azerbaijan in April 2016 caused a backlash in Armenia. Armenia condemned the supply of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan, and Medvedev’s statement was perceived as a breach of the alliance with Armenia.
Then was Vienna where the Americans proposed introducing mechanisms of constraint in the area of the Artsakh conflict. Then the French President Francois Hollande stated that these mechanisms are not only intended to detect but also punish breaches. In other words, military measures could be concerned.
This was not part of Moscow’s plans because, as Medvedev said, “the appearance of suppliers from other countries could complicate the situation in the region.”
Last October the U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton visited the region who offered Armenia to buy American weapons instead of Russian weapons. Armenia did not respond but Bolton’s statements were a bonus to Armenia in the negotiations with Russia. Nikol Pashinyan has announced that if the war in the region resumes, Russia will bear responsibility. In conclusion, Armenia has placed the obligation to maintain peace in the region on Russia through American proposals. Otherwise, other suppliers will emerge and other mechanisms of constraint will appear.
It is possible that Moscow is doing this by reviving the Medvedev plan which Baku dislikes.