However, it seems that the conversation turned out to be very difficult for Michel. So much so that after the promise of the head of the European Council to invite the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia to Brussels in late October, Ilham Aliyev did not give his consent for this meeting in the phone call. And we can guess why.
Not only did President Ilham Aliyev remind the President of the European Council about the eight Azerbaijani villages that remain under Armenian occupation and call the latest statement of the European Parliament unacceptable, but he also taught Charles Michel a small lesson in international law, mentioning the right to self-defense enshrined in the UN Charter. Most importantly, Ilham Aliyev called it a wrong approach to include Azerbaijan without its participation in the quadrilateral statement in Granada. In other words, he reminded Charles Michel of the basic rules of negotiation ethics: issues concerning Azerbaijan cannot be discussed without Azerbaijan. The results of these discussions will not be accepted in Baku.
We do not know whether Charles Michel was informed that there was a so-called “Kazan Document” in the history of the negotiation process. After long preparations and preliminary meetings, at the trilateral talks of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia in Kazan in June 2011, Moscow presented not the previously approved document, but a new one that was much more favorable to Yerevan. Ilham Aliyev refused to sign it.
Today, Baku is sending a clear message to the European Union: Azerbaijan will not sign a document that has been agreed upon with Yerevan in advance. European officials failed to learn from the mistakes of others. Now the question is whether they will be able to learn from their own. The President of Azerbaijan essentially gave Charles Michel a “road map”. First of all, it is imperative to follow negotiation ethics and not to try to negotiate with Armenia behind Azerbaijan’s back. Secondly, the issue of the eight Azerbaijani villages remaining under Armenian occupation should be clearly spelled out and not buried under the figures of the country’s area. Thirdly, France should be firmly removed from the negotiation process. And this is not counting the European Parliament, which is supposedly an independent body.
The stakes are quite high for the EU. The attempt to get ahead in the mediator competition is hopelessly faltering. And it is not only because the US will not stay on hold forever, and Moscow is already hinting at the possibility of a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia with Russia’s involvement, on the margins of the CIS summit in Bishkek.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a landmark statement during his visit to Georgia. The President set the accents, saying that “several countries and also some international organizations are trying to support the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan today. We welcome that. If it is not lop-sided and biased, of course, we welcome any mediation and assistance. However, in my opinion, taking into account both the historical relations and the geographical factor, the most correct option in this field would certainly be Georgia.”
Moreover, the head of state did not rule out either bilateral or trilateral meetings with representatives of Armenia in Georgia. We should add that after the 44-day war Georgia already hosted Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations without mediators.
This means that the EU will have to sweat a lot to clean up the mess that France has made on the negotiating track.
And we cannot be sure that it is not too late.
Translated from Minval.az