Pashinyan, Aliyev Agree to ‘De-Escalate Border Incidents’
Pashinyan reports on conversation with Putin in Dushanbe
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday chatted in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikstan, where the two leaders were attending the summit of CIS States. There, according to Pashinyan, the leaders discussed ways to de-escalate tensions along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan and Armenia-Azerbaijan borders.
In a Facebook Live post on Friday, Pashinyan explained that while he was introduced to Pashinyan at the opening ceremonies of the World Cup in June, he and the Azerbaijani leader did not converse. However, during two brief chats in Dushanbe, the two heads of state agreed on points impacting relations with Armenia and the Karabakh conflict resolution process.
“This time we had more practical conversation based on which we agreed on a number of important points. We agreed that we will task our defense ministers to take measures to de-escalate the situation and to prevent border incidents. I think this is an important agreement,” said Pashinyan.
The prime minister said that he immediately informed Artsakh President Bako Sahakian of the discussion and has “given relevant instructions to our Armed Forces.”
Pashinyan said that he and Aliyev registered their commitment to continuing negotiation under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
“We agreed to establish operative communication channels but we have not agreed about its practical implementation,” said Pashinyan. “I am happy and hope that those agreements will be respected, since they are extremely important.”
Aliyev’s top foreign policy advisor Hikmet Hajiyev assessed the discussion positively in an interview with the Azerbaijani Trend new agency on Monday. But, that’s where the similarities with Pashinyan’s account ended.
During his interview in Trend, Hajiyev again repeated official Azerbaijni claims that Armenia’s continued “occupation of Azerbaijani lands” was the main reason for continued unrest along the borders. He also interpreted the Pashinyan-Aliyev discussion to mean that the negotiations would continue between Armenia and Azerbaijan and will exclude representatives of Artsakh, a point continuously stressed by Pashinyan since the first day he came to power in Armenia.
The conversation in Dushanbe was also welcomed by Artsakh authorities with President Sahakian’s spokesperson David Babayan hailed the talks but expresses certain reservations given Baku’s track record.
“It is an interesting and commendable development if we were to give a political assessment. The three points on which they agreed is very important. But there is a reservation here that completely trusting Aliyev or generally the Azerbaijani leadership would not be right, because they might breach any agreement at their convenience in the lowest form, which experience has shown. Nevertheless, let’s hope that this time these agreements will yield some kind of positive results,” said Babayan.
He further cautioned that any substantive change should not be expected in the near future, arguing that Aliyev’s consent to a conversation might stem from outside pressure, noting that just before the Dushanbe summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Baku and held talks with Aliyev.
“Taking into consideration that Russia is one of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairing countries, it cannot be ruled out that Aliyev finds himself in a very unique situation when great pressure exists against him. Hence he found a suitable occasion to both get to know the Armenia’s new leader and demonstrate that he is being constructive,” added Babayan, who referenced the most recent statement by the co-chairs, which he said was targeting Azerbaijan, since it is the main violator of the cease-fire agreement.
Discussion with Putin
Pashinyan also had a conversation with Putin in Dushanbe, where a range of issues regarding Armenia-Russian relations were discussed, according to the prime minister,
“We can note that Armenian-Russian relations are really on a new level and in my opinion our relations had never been on such a high level like they are now,” Pashinyan said during the same Facebook Live post on Friday.
He emphasized that there is complete mutual understanding between him and the Russian President. “This does not mean that we hold the same position on all issues. There are no unresolvable issues in our relations and an excellent working atmosphere has been created,” said Pashinyan.
The prime minister also reported that while he was in New York for the United Nations General Assmebly last week he brief meetings with President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo., with the focus of the those talks centering on future development of U.S.-Armenia relations.
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