In a video interview published this week, Jeyhun Bayramov, the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, has indicated that his country is "ready to work together with Armenia on a big peace agreement between our two countries". The comments were made in English in an interview with the Turkish public broadcaster, TRT World.
“We believe, realistically, that this is the first time since the obtaining of independence both by Armenia and Azerbaijan, when our countries have a unique chance to normalise their relations”, Bayramov stated, continuing, “Because, actually, this is the first time when there is no fact of occupation, because you cannot talk about the normalisation of relations between the countries when one country occupies the territory of another.” Baku’s top diplomat explained that with the liberation of the seven Azerbaijani regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh during the war, Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity based on the four related UN Security Council resolutions of the last 30 years.
The foreign minister acknowledged that this is not easy for Azerbaijanis after 30 years of hostility, wars and casualties, but that, “at the same time, we believe that we should look at the future”. He noted that in offering this, Azerbaijan would expect political will and real steps to be taken by Armenia, and that their goal and proposal is yet to be reciprocated.
In the same interview, speaking about Azerbaijan's plans for the liberated regions, Baymarov highlighted Baku's main priorities as securing peace and stability in the region; and rehabilitation and reconstruction works with the final aim of "returning hundreds of thousands of IDPs who were forced to leave their homeland". He referenced landmines as one of the main issues and that the first supporter in this respect was Turkey, who has sent personnel and demining equipment to Azerbaijan.
Whilst it appears that the interview was recorded before the results of Sunday’s (20 June) election had been revealed, the landslide win by Civil Contract – the party of the incumbent Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan – has been seen by some in Azerbaijan as reason for optimism in the peace process. Speaking to commonspace.eu about the election results on Monday (21 June), Dr Vasif Huseynov, Senior Adviser at the Center of Analysis of International Relations (AIR Center) in Baku, said:
“This outcome has been interpreted by Azerbaijanis as the approval of the post-war peace and reconciliation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the Armenian people. Along with that, the emerging chance for the establishment of a stable political environment in Armenia is another factor which is seen by Azerbaijanis as conducive to regional peace and stability. This all has caused some optimism concerning the future of the region.”