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Aliyev and Pashinyan able fine game

Алиев и Пашинян в состоянии тонкой игры

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group proposed that the foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mammadyarov, to be held in January the next meeting. According to the press Secretary of the foreign Ministry of Armenia Anna Naghdalyan, “about meeting more details will be announced after approval”.

Recall that in 2018 Mnatsakanyan and Mammadyarov have met three times, the last time on 5 December in Milan, after which the Azeri Minister said that “at the last meeting in Milan with my Armenian counterpart, we for the first time in a long time, reached an understanding”. The parties at the negotiating table held in a total of about 10 hours. Information about results do not exist, but such an intense and essentially unprecedented negotiation process suggests that behind the scenes changes in the disposition of the negotiators. Otherwise, the question is rhetorical properties of the subject and the problem of the negotiations themselves. It is important to note that thanks to the efforts of Baku supported the dynamics of the negotiations.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev went to an oral agreement with acting Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Dushanbe to reduce tensions on the line of the front in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has maintained this style in other formats. This was done when the outcome of the parliamentary elections in Armenia were not obvious. Objectively, it strengthened the position noted, although generated a lot of versions, because the negotiations “on their feet” were out of OSCE MG format. And now, when the Armenian Prime Minister is busy fighting corruption, Aliyev at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of socio-economic development in 2018 and future goals, appealed to the international community to investigate so-called Armenian “cognac diplomacy” that was used by predecessors noted.

The Azerbaijani President referred to the results of the parliamentary elections in Armenia, where, in his words, “a group of people who illegally seized power, failed to gain five percent of the votes”. It is also grist to the mill Pashinian, indicating the existence of a factor in Armenia’s “deep state” that is a fundamentally new technique used Baku against Yerevan. Baku does not hide that associates certain positive expectations for themselves in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict that can or must implement in Yerevan, with the Armenian “revolutionary” authorities. Something, by the way, the practical is realized.

Despite the previous statement noted that Stepanakert should be considered a party to the conflict, the contours of a new approach to the settlement of the Karabakh problem suggest finding at the negotiating table is the equivalent of three negotiators — Baku, Yerevan, Stepanakert — the dialogue continues in the same format that was created without the involvement of those most of the Armenian authorities that the Azerbaijani Aliyev announced “the regime of the criminal junta.” At the same time, Aliyev, being a skilled politician, understands that without the two-way trade-offs are unlikely to actually come close to resolving the conflict.

Baku is playing at the Yerevan field with the aim to narrow down the possibilities for maneuvering Pashinyan, trim it inside Armenia from potential cooperation with the undesirable “conservative” political forces. The other purpose is to neutralize their possible impact in the case that Pashinyan will go to the undesirable “conservative” of concessions in the Karabakh settlement. But while externally no one rejects the Madrid principles with certain changes remain are the basis of a settlement. Although the main problem on which Yerevan and Baku can’t come to an agreement, is still the same: the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Is their game and Pashinyan, behind which is a desire at some stage to move the negotiations in a new format without something to take further steps in resolving the conflict will be difficult or impossible.

Baku political analyst Elhan Shahinoglu draws attention to the fact that Pashinyan was to send in Stepanakert newly appointed ambassadors that they got acquainted with the situation and “worked abroad in the interests of the self-proclaimed “NKR”. Another move: Yerevan stated that it would welcome the start of negotiations with Azerbaijan on joint service on the state border. We will remind that earlier the commander of the frontier troops of Azerbaijan Elchin Guliyev said that the country will replace a portion of units on the border with Armenia (Gazakh and Agstafa districts) on the border troops. The intrigue here is that on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border can appear and the Russian border guards, which, incidentally, provides the status of their stay in Armenia.

“And where is Armenia offers a post of border guards, upon agreement with Azerbaijan? — asks one Azerbaijani expert. Only on undisturbed sections of the state border of Azerbaijan and Armenia? Or Armenian border guards will appear in Karabakh and, most importantly, Azerbaijan will have to agree to this? Something similar exists in Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia”. Indeed, the issue of strengthening the border service on the border between Iran and Nagorno-Karabakh remains open.

Connected this can be so, says former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kauzlarich, along with “behind the scenes serious negotiations” on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, there is the factor of “unpredictability U.S. foreign policy and, in particular, steps involving Iran and U.S. attention to Armenia and Azerbaijan more of a question of Iran.” I agree with that and American expert William McHenry, who urged Washington adopted a more active part in the negotiating process between Baku and Yerevan, and not to give it to “the mercy of Putin is only” to limit Tehran’s influence.

So the situation in the Caucasus and in the neighboring middle East really changing. The prospect of resolving the conflict acquires a new and important, but for many subtle nuances. As for the Minsk group, its co-chairs are working on your script and prepare a result-oriented meeting between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Although, according to the famous British analyst Thomas de Waal, the OSCE MG becomes day by day “very weak international mechanism for the settlement of the conflict” and “expect big changes from the new government of Armenia regarding the Karabakh conflict at least in the near future is not worth it.”

Much depends on the political will and decision-making Aliyev noted. The subtle game between them continues.

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