The US is “firing” Russia from Tbilisi – why could not the heads of the Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia come to an agreement?

Although the bilateral meeting between Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan was a first, it did not produce the desired results.

The fact that the meeting lasted for 3 hours is a sign that the parties have thoroughly discussed various issues. The ministers touched on a number of issues related to the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, discussed the implementation of the obligations undertaken by both sides in this regard, and exchanged views on possible future steps. However, it can be said that the first round of negotiations did not yield concrete results.

In any case, the meeting in Tbilisi was a first, and it is not surprising that the first round of negotiations did not yield concrete results.

Statements of the parties

The official statements of Baku and Yerevan after the meeting are noteworthy. The good news is that both sides want the normalization of relations, are in favor of fulfilling their commitments, and both sides have agreed to continue the dialogue in this format. However, there is also considerable disagreement between the parties. For example, the main demands of Azerbaijan at the moment are:

1. Armenian armed units should be removed from the territory of Azerbaijan,

2. Armenia should end its desire for status,

3. Armenia should not obstruct the Zangezur corridor and should start work on the part of the corridor passing through its territory,

4. Official Yerevan should end efforts to restore the Minsk Group of the OSCE.

5. Delimitation and Demarcation process should be accelerated.

Official Baku wants to solve these and other issues as soon as possible, not within the next 27 years. This is also confirmed by the points touched upon by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on July 15 during the meeting dedicated to the results of the six months of this year under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Where will Bayramov and Mirzoyan meet next time?

Although the Bayramov-Mirzoyan meeting held in Tbilisi was the first, the urgency of the issues waiting to be resolved between the parties and the overflowing of official Baku’s patience make the next meeting between the parties urgent.

Georgian Foreign Minister Iliya Darchiashvili told the “Pirveli Arkhi” channel that “We did not talk about the time of future meetings.” This is a negative situation, because it is important to hold the next meeting as soon as possible to solve the pending issues. That is, the process should not take place in the context of 27 years of meaningless negotiations. On the other hand, the official position of Baku indicates that this will not happen.

However, Darchiashvili said “if it becomes necessary to come to Georgia for negotiations in any format, we are ready to accept and support”. That is, although the time of the next meeting is not clear, the venue may be Tbilisi again.

Tbilisi is on the face, Washington is behind the scenes!

Although Darchiashvili used the phrase “Azerbaijan and Armenia trust Georgia”, it is clear that the United States is behind the bilateral meeting held in Tbilisi. It is no coincidence that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken shared on his Twitter account after the meeting and wrote that “Ceyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan took a positive step by meeting in Tbilisi”. In addition, the phone conversation between Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and US Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried shows that Washington is the country behind the process.

It is clear that Washington wants to reconcile Armenia and Azerbaijan at the negotiating table and overcome the Kremlin. If Washington can achieve this, it will be able to remove Russia from the South Caucasus as well as the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe. Against the background of the current Russia-Ukraine war, the Kremlin aims to remove it from all regions, which it calls “Kremlin’s rearguard”. Although time will tell if the USA will be able to do this, at the moment, it does not matter for Baku whether the process is resolved by whom or through the mediation of which country. Official Baku wants to resolve the process as soon as possible through international law and peaceful means.
Turan Rzayev, political analyst of the International Relations and Diplomacy Research Center