Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has again threatened to withdraw from further negotiations with Armenia, accusing it of obstructing a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict sought by Azerbaijan.
Aliyev also renewed his criticism of the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group, saying that they should strive to not only maintain the ceasefire in the conflict zone but also make Armenian-Azerbaijani talks “substantive.”
“We are not going to hold negotiations and meaningless video conferences for the sake of imitation,” he told his newly appointed Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, on Thursday. “There has to be a meaning.”
Aliyev went on to accuse Yerevan of “undermining the negotiating process.” “If we see that negotiations are meaningless we will act and come up with statements accordingly,” he warned.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry scoffed at the comments on Friday. “If Azerbaijan is now refusing to negotiate with Armenia it is not clear with whom it is going to negotiate on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said the ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalian.
Naghdalian denounced “war threats” which she said have emanated from Baku lately. “If the threat to pull out of negotiations is part of the same effort then we are neither surprised nor impressed with that,” she said in written comments.
Aliyev already threatened to withdraw from the talks and lambasted the mediators on July 7. “[The mediators’] main point is that the problem cannot be solved militarily. Who said that?” he told Azerbaijani television.
Five days later, heavy fighting involving artillery fire and drone attacks broke out on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in disputed circumstances. At least twelve Azerbaijani servicemen and four Armenian soldiers were killed in the clashes that prompted serious concern from the international community.
The fighting appeared to have largely ground to a halt by Thursday evening. The conflicting parties reported no major truce violations overnight and the following morning.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the mediators said the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have pledged to “hold substantive negotiations on crucial aspects of a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement as soon as possible.” The Azerbaijani minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, was sacked and replaced by Bayramov on Thursday.