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13 May 2008 - ERAREN
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="justify">The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Elmar Mammadyarov and Edvard Nalbandian met in Strasbourg on 6 May 2008 with the co-presidents of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.

—een a preliminary for the possible meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in the near future. The meeting of these statesmen whose countries are party to the Karabakh conflict is always considered crucial for presenting the distinct views of the parties regarding this conflict during the resolution process.

Before touching upon the problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia, it would be useful to consider the recent course of Turkish-Armenian relations. Since the Armenian elections on 19 February, the foreign policy to be pursued by President Serzh Sargsyan and the government, especially with respect to Turkey, has become a cause of consideration. Following the elections, moderate messages sent between Turkey and Armenia at presidential and foreign ministry levels touched upon the importance of the relations of the two neighbours. After the new president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan had taken their posts, Prime Minister Erdo?an sent a message to Armenia expressing his expectations that bilateral relations have entered a new period during which they will contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability and welfare. Responding to the message, Sargsyan stated that direct bilateral relations would help to resolve all the problems. In addition, the Armenian statesmen said that they do not have any prerequisites for the normalization of relations. As is commonly known, there are three major roadblocks for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Firstly, until now Armenia has refused to clearly recognise the territorial unity of Turkey. Secondly, Armenia seeks to force Turkey to recognise the events in 1915 as genocide. Thirdly, the Armenian military is occupying Azerbaijani territory including Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas. Even if Armenia repeats the message that they are ready for “unconditional compromise,” it is not willing to agree to take steps in matters sensitive to Turkey. 

Due to the occupation of Karabakh, the problems with Azerbaijan continue. Armenia recognises the 1915 events as genocide and pursues a course of action which forces Turkey to face ungrounded accusations from the international community. The occupation of Karabakh diminishes the stability in the region and has caused Armenia to be excluded from joint projects and agreements for years.

There have not been any changes up to now in the course of foreign policy that Armenia has pursued with regards to either of its important neighbours. Its uncompromising approach towards the Karabakh conflict especially, continues to damage both the stability in the region and Armenia itself. In this new post-election period, with its possibility for change in the regional policies of Armenia, the first meeting of Armenia’s new Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov is of crucial importance. Similar statements were made by both sides after the meeting, and the approaches of Azerbaijan and Armenia were made clear.  The general consensus was that the solution should be found through dialogue between the parties. As in the previous OSCE Minsk group meetings, both foreign ministers expressed the resolve of the parties to contribute to the peace process. Another important dimension of the meeting was the fact that it might lead to the realisation of a meeting between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Although the meeting was conducted in a positive mood, it resembled previous bilateral talks. The Karabakh conflict, one of the most important problems in the region, awaits a solution. Peace and resolution of the conflict through diplomatic means are desired by mediator states such as Turkey. However, a solution is only possible if Armenia agrees to take steps that will contribute to the process.

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