EU Cites “Lack of Time” for Preparing an Agenda, While Yerevan Blames Baku
Talks between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, scheduled to take place before the end of the month in Brussels, have been postponed, Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s Caucasus representative said on Wednesday.
Speaking remotely at a forum in Yerevan entitled “Progress in Uncertainty,” Klaar cited “lack of time” for the necessary preparations for the talks as the reason. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Wednesday accused Aliyev of backing out of the meeting, saying all indications until Klaar’s announcement suggested that the talks would take place.
After backing out of another set talks in Granada, Spain earlier this month, during a telephone conversation with the European Council President Charles Michel, Aliyev voiced his readiness to take part in the now canceled talks. Since then, however, he and his government have criticized the EU and France for taking pro-Armenian positions on the issue. Aliyev has overtly taken a more pro-Russia stance, as tensions continue to escalate between Moscow and Yerevan.
Klaar said that the objective of the talks were to address the return of Artsakh Armenians to their homes, from which they driven out after Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack forcing a mass exodus.
Klaar emphasized that the EU believes that eventually a peace document will be signed between Yerevan and Baku.
The EU diplomat also said that the so-called “3+3” meeting of foreign ministers in Tehran was positive, saying the prospect of creating a regional bloc was not inconsistent with other efforts for peace in the region.
He said that discussions between neighboring countries are important and useful, and the EU, in principle, is always in favor of cooperation.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Yerevan with the visiting Canadian Foreign Minister, Malenie Joy, Mirzoyan was unequivocal in his instance that Aliyev, again, backed out of talks mediated by the EU.
Mirzoyan said “it is simple and clear: apparently, the president of Azerbaijan has not found the time,” in response to a reporter’s question about whether Azerbaijan’s latest pressure campaign over the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” might have derailed the scheduled talks.
“We [Armenia] are still ready for the meeting. I hope the reason is really the lack of time. And there will be an opportunity to decide new timeframes for the meeting. Armenia is ready for the meeting,” Mirzoyan said. “As I have already said, we are committed to the peace agenda.”
The cancelation of the EU talks comes two days after Mirzoyan held an informal meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, in Tehran, on the margins of the so-called “3+3”summit of foreign miniters.
“We had informal contacts in Tehran two days ago, and Armenia is ready to quickly continue the peace process, including toward the achievement of a peace treaty. Our approaches are known,” Mirzoyan said, adding that in the future it will become clear whether the postponement of the EU talks was really a question of timing.