President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan threatened to withdraw from Karabakh conflict settlement talks, blaming Armenia for obstructing his vision of a resolution.
Aliyev made the threat on Thursday during a video conference with his newly-appointed foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov after firing Azerbaijan’s long-time top diplomat Elmar Mammadyarov, who has been a fixture at the OSCE Minsk Group-led negotiations since 2004.
During his chat with Bayramov, Aliyev once again criticized the American, Russian and French Minsk Group co-chairmen who have been mediating the talks, saying that they should add substance to the negotiations and not just attempt to maintain the ceasefire.
“We are not going to hold negotiations and meaningless video conferences for the sake of parody,” he told Bayramov. “There has to be a meaning.”
On July 7, in a nationally-televised interview, Aliyev called the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen efforts “meaningless” and took offense at their insistence that the Karabakh conflict cannot be settled through force. “Who said?,” Aliyev challenged in the interview.
Less than a week later, Azerbaijani forces began a brazen attack on civilian and military targets in Armenia’s Tavush Province.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry responded to Aliyev’s latest threat to withdraw from the talks, saying it “neither surprises us or fazes us.”
“If Azerbaijan refuses to negotiate with Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it is not clear with whom that country will negotiate. We don’t know whether Azerbaijan intends to resume negotiations with the Nagorno-Karabakh side or not,” Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan said Friday.
Naghdalyan explained that there were three signatories to the Karabakh ceasefire—Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan. She added that In the past Azerbaijan negotiated with Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, later refusing to sit down with Artsakh’s representatives.
“Recently, Azerbaijan has been trying to resort to the threats of war presented in different patterns. If this recent threat to withdraw from the negotiations is yet another manifestation of those threats, then it neither surprises nor fazes us,” she added.
Naghdalyan stressed that Armenia rejects the language of threats and stands for a peaceful solution of the conflict.
On Thursday, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman, in an announcement welcomed intentions by the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers to meet in the near future to discuss the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. It is unclear now whether such talks will move forward after Mammadyarov’s firing.
During the same conversation with Bayrmaov, Aliyev blamed a number of diplomats in state betrayal, saying that this was the result of incorrect policies at the foreign ministry. He said that Azerbaijan actively establishes friendly and partnering relations with all countries, but it does not mean that the interests of the state and people should be set aside.
”Some of our diplomats in other countries have become the Ambassadors of those countries where they work. This is the result of wrong cadre policy. Some diplomats have betrayed the state, they have betrayed it and are not hiding it. They are under the control of the special services of those countries,” Aliyev said.
Aliyev accused those diplomats of receiving money and instructions from the special services of the countries they live in.