Armenia hopes that Azerbaijan will agree to major confidence-building measures in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after President Ilham Aliyev’s victory in a snap presidential election, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
According to official results of Wednesday’s election boycotted by the Azerbaijani opposition, Aliyev secured a fourth consecutive term in office with more than 86 percent of the vote. Western observers criticized the conduct of the ballot.
“The Azerbaijanis took a break in negotiations [with Armenia,] saying that they will be holding elections,” said Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman. “This was their most recent excuse to delay the implementation of agreements that were reached at the last three [Armenian-Azerbaijani] summits.”
“We now hope that they will not try to find another excuse for avoiding the implementation of those important agreements,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Balayan singled out an understanding which was reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers at their meeting held in the Polish city of Krakow on January 18. According to U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov agreed “in principle” to expand an OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone.
Nalbandian said late last month that Baku is now refusing to “honor that agreement.”
The co-chairs visited Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert in early February. They said in a joint statement that the warring sides pledged to “continue intensive negotiations, taking into account the current electoral period.”
Aliyev was reelected two days after Armenia’s Serzh Sarkisian completed his second and final presidential term. The Armenian parliament is widely expected to name Sarkisian prime minister on April 17. The latter should thus remain the country’s most powerful official.
Balayan could not say whether Yerevan and Baku will hold further high-level talks soon. “As far as I know, there is no such agreement at this point,” he said.
Armen Baghdasarian, an Armenian political analyst, suggested that Aliyev and Sarkisian will now be in a position to resume the Karabakh peace process. “It is now clear who will govern Armenia and Azerbaijan for the next five years, and that will contribute to the start of a new phase of peace talks,” he said.