Armenia and Azerbaijan re-state old positions as they ponder possible peace talks

Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to send mixed messages regarding the opening of talks aimed to finally put to bed the conflict between them.

According to a statement published by the Armenian ministry of foreign affairs earlier today (14 March), Armenia has  asked the OSCE Minsk Group co-Chair countries - France, Russia and the United States) to organise the negotiations. 

Speaking on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on Friday, the Azerbaijani minister of foreign affairs, Jeyhun Bayramov, stated that he had sent a new 5-point document to Armenia as a basis to begin the normalisation of relations. Bayramov said that since Armenia had not responded to Azerbaijani peace proposals for over a year, Baku had decided to issue a new proposal. He added that this was a “very good opportunity” for Armenia if it sincerely wanted normalisation. 

 The Azerbaijani proposal puts a lot of emphasis on recognition of each other's territorial integrity. Bayramov said that “all the principles mentioned in this document are the principles of international relations”.

He also re-iterated that Azerbaijan was ready to begin negotiations without preconditions: “The Azerbaijani side offered to resolve these issues, but Armenia always put forward preconditions. Preconditions for starting the process are unacceptable. A group on bilateral cooperation should be created, and this group should start working”. Finally, he said that Azerbaijan “was ready to develop relations based on certain principles. Armenia must consider those questions and give answers”.

On Monday, Yerevan seemed to do just that; a statement by the foreign ministry stated that “The Republic of Armenia responded to the proposals of the Republic of Azerbaijan and applied to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship to organise negotiations on peace agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan on the basis of the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act”.

So, whilst couched in diplomatic nicities, the position of the two countries seems to be far apart as ever, with Azerbaijan insisting on the principle of territorial integrity, which means Armenia must accept that Nagorno-Karabakhj is part of Azerbaijan, whilst Armenia refers to other documents which it has used in the past to justify its claim for the right of Nagorno-Karabakh for self-determination.

source: and agencies
photo: Armed men in silhouette against the background of the flags of Armenia and Azerbaijan (Graphic courtesy of Al Arabiya)