During the General Assembly in New York the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers had separate meetings with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
The Azerbaijani press mentioned that the meeting with Elmar Mammedyarov lasted for half an hour. The Armenian MFA informed that thoughts were exchanged on essential steps towards creating favorable conditions to promote peace settlement of the Karabakh issue.
Ahead of the meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan Edward Nalbandyan announced that they will discuss the meeting of presidents and the timeline of the regional visits of the co-chairs. Mammedyarov retorted that they will talk about substantive negotiations.
Armenia has no reason for negotiating “substantively” with Azerbaijan. There is no visible international pressure, domestic or other motives. If Armenia goes for “substantive negotiations”, it means there is hidden pressure by third parties.
Ahead of leaving for New York Nalbandyan announced that they may discuss issues relating to return of territories “which are no threat to security of Karabakh”. Later Nalbandyan said that his words were cut from the context. He stated that the “derivative” issues will not be discussed unless Baku agrees to the issue of status.
The statement referred to Nalbandyan was also denied by his deputy minister Shavarsh Kocharyan who said nobody is going to hand anything.
The chief of General Staff Movses Hakobyan announced that new territories are needed for maximum security of Artsakh.
Apparently, the Armenian side has received definite guarantees in New York that the international community will not demand handing territories. In their congratulations on Armenia’s Independence Day the U.S. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson announced that Armenia ensures “regional security”. In diplomacy this could be defined as a guarantee that the United States is not interested in change of the status quo in Karabakh and considers it an element of regional stability.
Azerbaijan has also admitted that the international community has such attitude, describing this as double standard. Ilham Aliyev has expressed dissatisfaction that the world does not recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Moreover, Russia does not insist on Kazan and other plans. In New York Lavrov and Nalbandyan discussed only bilateral relations, and on in his message on Armenia’s Independence Day Putin did not mention Karabakh at all.
This politics, as well as international scandals are making Aliyev’s situation increasingly wobbly. An opposition rally is underway in Baku which was organized by Azerbaijan’s popular front and Ali Kerimli. Yesterday information came that Aliyev has released from jail his main opponent Ilgar Mammadov. It was note that the EU intended to adopt sanctions against Azerbaijan if Mammadov were not set free.
In this context, the meeting between Nalbandyan and Mammedyarov cannot be “substantive”. It will not be serious. If the Armenian side negotiates concessions and compromise, it will mean that Yerevan is protecting the interests of other countries rather than its own.