Azerbaijan has started a game with the European Union the purpose of which could be Armenia.
A few weeks ago the deputy minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammedguliyev announced that Azerbaijan will hardly sign a framework agreement with the EU at the summit in November. He said the discussions will not be completed by the end of the year.
Then the EU high ranking officials spoke who insisted on signing the agreement in Brussels in November. The foreign minister Elmar Mammedyarov also affirmed Azerbaijan’s commitment to sign it in November.
Yesterday Mammedguliyev announced that the last consultations with the EU will take place at the end of November and the issue of “political security” will be discussed. Ostensibly, Azerbaijan is trying to include a point on “territorial integrity” but the EU insists on other wording. The European Union has always insisted that the Karabakh conflict settlement be based on the principles of territorial integrity, self-determination and non-use of force.
If the EU agrees to use the wording of territorial integrity in the text and not insist on self-determination, it will mean that the EU has changed its strategy. It will also mean that the EU includes Karabakh within Azerbaijan’s “borders” and does not dispute the right to self-determination.
The most important thing is that mentioning the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan without referring to self-determination may cause Armenia to refuse to sign the agreement with the EU. The text of the EU-Armenia agreement has been pre-signed, and recently the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn has visited Yerevan but has not dispelled doubts about the agreement. It is worth to remember that in 2013 Azerbaijan refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU before Armenia. Experts say the reason was Azerbaijan failed to achieve a wording on Karabakh in the preamble.
A lot of circles in Russia are not interested in the signing of the EU-Armenia agreement.
What will the EU do in this case? Will the EU refuse to sign the agreement with Azerbaijan in November not to thwart the signing of the agreement with Armenia? Note that at the end of October the Council of Europe will discuss the resolution on breaches in Azerbaijan which proposes suspension of Azerbaijan’s membership in the Council of Europe. Hence, Azerbaijan has nothing to lose but could thwart the EU-Armenia agreement.