BAKU: Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday he would not meet the prime minister of Armenia, as planned in Brussels next month, because Yerevan demanded French leader Emmanuel Macron mediate.
Azerbaijan accuses France of backing Armenia in the two countries’ decades-long conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Aliyev said he would not meet Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels on Dec 7 because the Armenian leader demanded that Macron attend the talks.
Pashinyan “agreed to the meeting only on condition” that Macron take part, Aliyev told an international conference in Baku. “That means the meeting will not take place.”
He accused Pashinyan of attempting to “scupper the peace talks”. Last month Macron and European Council President Charles Michel attended a meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Prague.
On Friday, the Armenian foreign ministry said the meeting in Brussels should have the “same” format.
With Moscow increasingly isolated on the world stage following its February invasion of Ukraine, the EU and the United States have taken a leading role in mediating the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks.
On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted Moscow was “continuing its work on facilitating” talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars — in 2020 and in the 1990s — over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated region of Nagorno Karabakh.
The six-week war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire.
The two countries have recently begun working on a peace treaty under the mediation of the European Union and the United States. Last month, President Aliyev denounced as “unacceptable and biased” a comment from Macron that “Azerbaijan launched a terrible war, with many deaths, (and) atrocious scenes”.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said at the time Baku was “forced to reconsider France’s role in mediating” the peace talks.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022