Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian believes that the current Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Brussels is not “the right platform” where relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be discussed and resolved.
He said this in comments to RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent Rikard Jozwiak ahead of the opening of the biennial event bringing together leaders of six Eastern European and South Caucasus nations cooperating with the EU under a program launched in 2009.
This year’s summit in Brussels could also see clashes over the gathering’s final declaration, according to EU diplomats familiar with the talks.
One paragraph concerning conflicts in the region has been left open after both Armenia and Azerbaijan wanted specific, but conflicting, statements on Nagorno-Karabakh, according to a draft text seen by RFE/RL.
“Azerbaijan can push difficult language, but who will accept that?” Sarkisian said, adding that he did not see obstructions to the final declaration.
“I don’t think this Eastern Partnership summit is the right platform where our relations with Azerbaijan should be discussed,” he added.
The Armenian leader emphasized that it is the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe’s Minsk Group and its co-chairs (represented by the United States, Russia and France) that deal with the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. “The EU has extended its full supports to the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group [co-chairs]. And we are fully content with that,” Sarkisian concluded.
The current text of the declaration reads: “The summit participants call for renewed efforts to promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the region on the basis of the principles and norms of international law.”
It adds that “the resolution of the conflicts, building trust and good neighborly relations are essential to economic and social development and cooperation.”
EU diplomats told RFE/RL that they wanted neutral wording in the statement and to omit any mention of specific conflicts in the Eastern Partnership countries, citing squabbles between Baku and Yerevan over the 2015 declaration that delayed the summit by several hours.