Azerbaijan on Monday criticized the European Union for failing to explicitly voice support for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh during last week’s summit in Riga with six ex-Soviet republics.
An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement confirmed Baku’s dissatisfaction with references to the Karabakh conflict made in the summit’s concluding declaration.
“By trying to draft a compromise text on conflicts affecting some [EU] partner states, the authors of the declaration could not avoid something which is called double standards in the international practice,” charged the statement cited by the Trend news agency. “Azerbaijan expects the EU to express a clear and explicit position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The Riga declaration calls for the resolution of ethnic and territorial disputes in the former Soviet Union “on the basis of the principles and norms of international law.” It singles out the continuing conflict in Ukraine, calling for a “political solution based on respect for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
With regard to the Karabakh conflict, the 13-page document says only that the EU and the six ex-Soviet states aligned in its Eastern Partnership “fully support” the long-running joint peace efforts by the United States, France and Russia.
Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who represented Azerbaijan at the summit, threatened to veto the declaration in the Latvian capital, reportedly prompting Donald Tusk, the president of the EU’s decision-making Council, to phone President Ilham Aliyev. Mammadyarov signed up to it afterwards.
Aliyev’s chief foreign policy aide, Novruz Mammadov, confirmed on Friday that his country’s “discontent” with the text has to do with the Karabakh issue. “We agreed to the declaration, while expressing our special position,” he said, according to the official Azertaj news agency. “We will communicate our special position [to Brussels] in writing.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement is understood to serve this purpose. Baku’s relations with the EU worsened even before the latest Eastern Partnership forum, with Aliyev deciding to boycott it apparently in protest against growing Western criticism of his regime’s poor human rights record.
Speaking at the Riga summit, President Serzh Sarkisian emphasized the fact that the mediating powers’ peace proposals have for years been based on a combination of the internationally recognized principles of territorial integrity of states and peoples’ self-determination. He also said that “Nagorno-Karabakh has nothing to do with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity because it has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan.”
The Karabakh dispute was reportedly high on the agenda of Mammadyarov’s talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that were held in Moscow on Monday. Lavrov told reporters after the talks that Moscow will continue to “actively foster the search for mutually acceptable agreements.”
Earlier this month, the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group held separate talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Paris in another attempt to revive the Karabakh peace process. They said they will again visit the conflict zone soon and try to arrange a meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian later this year.