The European Union may succeed in organizing next month a potentially decisive meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, a senior EU official said on Friday.
Aliyev and Pashinyan were scheduled to meet on the fringes of the EU’s October 5 summit in Granada, Spain. Pashinyan hoped that they will sign there a document laying out the main parameters of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty.
However, Aliyev withdrew from the talks at the last minute. He also appears to have cancelled another meeting which EU Council President Charles Michel planned to host in Brussels later in October.
The EU official, who did not want to be identified, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that Michel and other EU representatives are now holding separate discussions with Yerevan and Baku in an effort to reschedule the trilateral meeting for December. Although no agreement has been reached so far, the summit may take place next month, said the official.
Pashinyan said, meanwhile, that he has not yet received “an invitation to the next meeting from Charles Michel.” Speaking during the annual Paris Peace Forum in the French capital, he said the peace accord can be signed “in the coming months” if Azerbaijan commits to mutual recognition of each other’s Soviet-era borders and a corresponding mechanism for delimiting the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier.
Pashinyan questioned Baku’s willingness to do that, saying that Azerbaijani officials, academics and government-controlled media are increasingly promoting “the concept of so-called Western Azerbaijan” encompassing much of modern-day Armenia. That is a “concept for preparing a new war against Armenia,” he claimed.
The EU official said in this regard that Aliyev repeatedly recognized Armenia’s territorial integrity during EU-mediated talks with Pashinyan. The Azerbaijani leader has not done so publicly, however.
The Brussels-based official also revealed that Aliyev pledged not to resort to a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict just days before the Azerbaijani army attacked Karabakh and forced its practically entire population to flee to Armenia.