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Azerbaijan Says Anybody Willing to Contribute to Peace Talks is Welcome

By Gunay Hajiyeva September 6, 2023

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Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev / Courtesy

Azerbaijani President’s Assistant recently described the mainstream approach of the country’s authorities on the international efforts aimed at mediating normalization between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Hikmet Hajiyev, who also leads the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, said there are various platforms and Baku is not opting for a particular broker in the ongoing peace talks with Armenia.

“Our approach is that anybody who is willing to contribute to real peace on the ground, they are most welcome,” Hajiyev told Arab News.

He underlined mediation roles assumed by the European Council, the United States, and Russia as the major international efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations.

“On one side, we have a Brussels process facilitated by (European Council) President Charles Michel. This is very much appreciated. Important elements of the peace treaty talks on a normalization council between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been generated from that platform,” Hajiyev said.

“And then we appreciate the US government, and particularly Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s personal engagement on peace treaty discussions. They have done a lot,” Hajiyev added.

Hajiyev added that Russia’s role in this regard could not be denied as Moscow has also been contributing as a regional actor with historical relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Regarding the normalization process, he said there is room for reconciliation between the two nations, but it is difficult to predict the future. Hajiyev is convinced that Azerbaijan has already demonstrated its strong will for peace and now it is up to Armenia to reciprocate by realizing post-war realities instead of hindering the process with blurry rhetoric and anti-Azerbaijan propaganda.

“Armenia’s dirty propaganda against Azerbaijan has derailed us from the path of peace treaty negotiations, on a platform provided by Washington DC, which we very much appreciate. We had achieved very important progress. Almost 70 percent of the document had been cleared. In a sense, we agreed,” he stated, adding that the peace treaty would completely change the landscape of the South Caucasus.

“But you have the prime minister of Armenia, on one hand recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, while on the other hand he still keeps Armenian armed forces in our territory. He still finances the illegal subordinate regime on our territory.”

At a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow on May 22, 2023, with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev also in attendance, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Armenia has officially recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the Karabakh region.

However, he simultaneously demanded so-called “rights” and “security” for the Armenian minority living there. In addition, last week, he congratulated the separatist regime in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the adoption of independence declaration.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said Pashinyan’s remarks have contradicted the statement made earlier by him supporting Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, including the Karabakh region, and inflicted a serious blow to the ongoing peace process.

“This contradicting behavior of a country not abandoning unfounded claims against historical and internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan and falsification of history, grossly violating the principles of international law, and not learning from the deplorable situation due to its aggressive policy must be prevented,” the ministry said in a statement issued on September 2.

The ministry called on Armenian authorities to refrain from inciting aggressive separatist tendencies in Azerbaijani territories by such statements.

Nearly 25,000 Armenians reside in certain parts of the Karabakh region, monitored by a temporary Russian peacekeeping mission. Shortly after the war, the government of Azerbaijan voiced its readiness to reintegrate these residents into Azerbaijani society in line with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan.

On March 1, officials from Azerbaijan met with the representatives of Armenians residing in the Karabakh region. During the meeting, preliminary discussions were held on their reintegration into the Azerbaijani society. In late March, the Azerbaijani authorities invited the representatives of Karabakh Armenians to Baku for a second meeting.

However, a group of separatists in the Karabakh region meddled to derail the dialogue. They have been seeking a so-called status for the region’s Armenian residents, demanding “independence” from Azerbaijan, which Baku said was not and would never be on the agenda.