BAKU (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan signaled on Thursday that a further alignment of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process with the current Armenia-Turkey negotiations was taking place in revealing comments that follow the release of protocols by Armenia and Turkey aimed at establishing relations by year’s end.
“This issue was discussed last week during a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan has once again stated its position,” Novruz Mammedov, a senior aide to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, said on Thursday commenting on the announcement of the Armenia-Turkey protocols.
Armenia and Turkey said Monday they will sign accords on diplomatic ties after six weeks of domestic consultations and submit them to their respective parliaments for ratification, after which the border is expected to be opened within two months of ratification, possibly by New Year.
Azerbaijan, a supplier of oil and gas to the West, opposes the opening of borders between Armenia and Turkey without Yerevan quitting its support for the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, over which Baku seeks to regain control.
Mammedov told Azeri ANS television in comments posted on its website on Thursday that the Turkish- Armenian rapprochement was contrary to Azeri national interests. But he added: “I believe that before the border is opened, there could be movement in resolving the conflict, and certain agreement.”
Mediators from the United States, France and Russia have for months said they were close to clinching an agreement on the basic principles of a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh. The OSCE Minsk Group has been pushing for a speedy resolution of the conflict before October to secure similar gains in the Armenia-Turkey track.
But analysts have been skeptical of a breakthrough, citing a flawed mediation approach that ignores the conflicts core issues–namely that of the Nagorno-Karabakh peoples’ right to self determination,and Azerbaijan’s culpability in launching and losing a war of aggression. That the two conflicts are being packaged together into what is increasingly looking like one all-encompassing deal is also cause for skepticism that mediators will reach a sustainable solution to either issue.
Mammedov said that for Azerbaijan, “the main thing is that the opening of the [Turkish-Armenian] border should not contradict” its interests and “that certain movement should be achieved in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
A resolution to the Karabakh conflict, he reiterated, “depends on the [Armenia-Turkey] negotiation and on conditions made in the negotiations.”
“It is necessary for the Turkish side to keep its promises,” he added.