Azerbaijan's FOMO moment

Image by Arzu Geybullayeva


Despite all its efforts, the government of Azerbaijan failed to prevent a scheduled EU–US–Armenia summit in Brussels with Armenia's prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, EU commissioner Von der Leyen and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on April 5. The meeting was highly criticized by the government of Azerbaijan on the grounds that it would negatively affect the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as per a statement from Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But the meeting was not at all about Azerbaijan nor the peace process.

FOMO moment

Days ahead of the meeting, Baku officially expressed its concern in multiple statements. On March 27, Aykhan Hajizade, the head of the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, condemned the Brussels meeting, calling the actions by the EU and the US “one-sided, biased and based on doubt-standards.”

In a clarifying statement to Azerbaijan, the EU Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said the trilateral meeting between the EU, the US, and Armenia, focused on EU/US-Armenia bilateral agenda and not on the “ongoing normalisation process/peace negotiations, or relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

In a phone conversation with Blinken, on April 3, President Aliyev claimed the meeting was “non-transparent, non-inclusive, and won't lead to peace and cooperation in the South Caucasus.” Meanwhile, Blinken also raised the issue of human rights and called for immediate release of those unjustly placed behind bars according to the readout of the conversation. President Aliyev said this was an internal matter and that using human rights as an excuse to meddle in country’s internal politics was unacceptable.  

On April 4, President Aliyev also spoke with Ursula von der Leyen. But the president of the EU Commission told Aliyev that relations between EU and Azerbaijan were important especially in the framework of “stable and prosperous South Caucasus.”

In its attempt to prevent the meeting, Azerbaijan pulled all the strings it could, reaching out to its remaining two allies, Turkey and Russia. Ahead of the meeting, Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said on her Telegram channel that such meetings were cause for “concern,” creating divisions among the regional countries, disrupting their “centuries-old relations with Moscow and weakening the existing mechanisms of regional security and economic cooperation.” Zakharova went further, accusing Armenia of “becoming a tool” in the hands of the “collective West” and its “dangerous plans.”

Turkey too expressed its concern ahead of the meeting. A statement from Turkey's Foreign Ministry said, “the trilateral meeting between Armenia, the EU, and the U.S. on April 5 will undermine the neutral approach that should be the basis for the solution of the complex problems of the region.”

The outcomes of the meeting

As it turned out, the meeting was indeed focused on Armenia and had nothing to do with Azerbaijan, contrary to the claims leveled by the government of Azerbaijan ahead of the meeting.

Following the summit, Blinken said that Washington would allocate USD 65 million in economic support to Armenia this year to support “a strong, independent nation at peace with its neighbors.” Von der Leyen saidthat the EU pledged to allocate EUR 270 million in support to Armenia's businesses and industry as part of  “a new and ambitious partnership agenda.”

In the face of changing regional geopolitics, Armenia felt abandoned by Russia, and has been moving to enhance its relations with the West.

On March 12, the European Parliament passed a resolution “On closer ties between the EU and Armenia and the need for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

With over 500 MePs in favor, four against, and 32 abstentions, the resolution “recognizes and welcomes” Armenia's “desire to enhance and prioritize relations with the European Union,” calling the partnership between Armenia and the EU a “logical step in aligning with Armenia's choice in favor of democracy, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and respect for the international rules-based order.”

The resolution followed explicit intentions expressed by Armenia to apply for EU candidacy and a partnership agenda announced by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell in February 2024.

Armenia decided to freeze its membership to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in February 2024 following the deadly flare-up between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At least four Armenian servicemen were reportedly killed and one wounded in the first fatal incident on February 13, 2024, since the September 2023 military offensive.

Following the meeting, a pro-government platform created recently, the Western Azerbaijan Community, also issued a statement linking Azerbaijan's frustration of the meeting to financial issues. “By providing aid to Armenia and not to Azerbaijan, the EU and the US are in a way rewarding Armenia, which has devastated Azerbaijani territories and polluted them with mines, and pushing it to launch new attacks on Azerbaijan. The EU and the US, with their financial aid to Armenia, finance a large-scale arms program implemented by this country,” the statement reads. Earlier in February, the same community accused the EU mission in Armenia of “creating military and intelligence cover for the Armenian side.” The EU mission was deployed a month after Azerbaijan launched an offensive inside Armenia in 2022.

In none of the statements did the community elaborate on the evidence upon which these allegations were made.

The Nagorno–Karabakh area has been under the control of its ethnic Armenian population as a self-declared state since a war fought in the early 1990s, which ended with a ceasefire and Armenian military victory in 1994. In the aftermath of the first war, a new, internationally unrecognized, de facto Nagorno–Karabakh Republic was established. Seven adjacent regions were occupied by Armenian forces. As a result of that war, “more than a million people had been forced from their homes: Azerbaijanis fled Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the adjacent territories, while Armenians left homes in Azerbaijan,” according to the International Crisis Group.

The tensions lingered over the following decades, culminating in the second Karabakh war in 2020 and the military operation in September 2023. The latter paved the way for Azerbaijan to regain full control over Karabakh. However, despite reassurances that Karabakh Armenian rights’ would be protected and preserved, 104,000 Karabakh Armenians fled following the September 2023 offensive, according to the most recent data.

The two countries are yet to reach a deal that could finally end their three decade long impasse. Even after two wars, a military operation, and a deadly flare-up, the two countries are still negotiating. At the heart of the negotiations is a bilateral agreement proposed by Azerbaijan in May 2022. The deal consists of five principles, which include recognizing each other's territorial integrity, the absence of territorial claims, abstaining from threats, demarcating the border, and opening transportation links.

Both countries have been engaged in negotiations and countless meetings mediated by international stakeholders since the Second Karabakh War in 2020, centered around reaching a final bilateral agreement and settling the remaining disagreements between them. But there has been little substantial progress despite numerous statements and expressions of goodwill.


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