After talks in Washington and Brussels, Nikol Pashinian, the Armenian Prime Minister, and Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, met Thursday, May 25, in Moscow, under the aegis of Vladimir Putin, to try to move forward on the peace negotiations between these two nations of the South Caucasus, in conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The discussions focused on restoring transportation between the two countries. The Kremlin chief claimed that the differences between Baku and Yerevan on the issue were “purely technical” And “surmountable”. Mr. Pashinian, said that both sides “are making good progress in normalizing their relations, based on the mutual recognition of territorial integrity”. No agreement was reported after the meeting.
With this meeting, Russia, weakened by the war in Ukraine, intends to show that it retains its influence in the region and does not intend to leave the United States and the European Union (EU), very invested in parallel initiatives to reach an agreement. “Most surprising is the accidental convergence between Westerners and Russia [sur ce dossier], despite the war in Ukraine, notes Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center research center in Yerevan. But Moscow has well and truly lost the diplomatic initiative, and neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan want to give Putin a victory. »
Armenia, a traditional ally of Russia, is particularly upset against Moscow, which it criticizes for its passivity in the face of repeated attacks from Baku. Prior to the meeting, Pashinyan again raised on Monday the possibility of his country withdrawing from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Moscow-dominated military alliance.
Members of the Armenian and Azerbaijani government had already met in early May in Washington. The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, had estimated that a peace agreement was “in sight”. On May 14, the talks continued in Brussels – at the highest level – under the aegis of the EU. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, reported on ” progress “. A new meeting is expected on 1er June, in Chisinau (Moldova), between Mr. Pashinian and Mr. Aliev, under the mediation of Emmanuel Macron and Charles Michel.
These multiple talks take place in a tense context between the two countries, which fought a new war in the fall of 2020, in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by Armenians. The ceasefire, signed on November 9, 2020 under the tutelage of Moscow but regularly violated, sealed the crushing defeat of Armenia and recorded the deployment of some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers in the region. Since May 2021, the conflict has spread inside Armenia itself, with regular clashes on the border, although the presence, since February, of an EU civilian mission in Armenia has brought back some stability. Azerbaijani troops regularly carry out incursions into Armenian territory, of which they now occupy more than 50 square kilometers.
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