Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has canceled plans to attend peace talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after Baku’s military took control of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, local media reported Wednesday.
(Bloomberg) — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has canceled plans to attend peace talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after Baku’s military took control of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, local media reported Wednesday.
Aliyev won’t travel to Spain for Thursday’s scheduled talks at the European Political Community meeting because of France’s “destructive position” on the conflict, the pro-government Caliber news service reported, citing a person in the government it didn’t identify. Another reason is because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won’t be there, Caliber reported.
“We regret that the meeting won’t take place” because the talks would have offered the chance to sign a “pivotal document” to promote regional peace and stability, Pashinyan told Armenian lawmakers. He said he’ll still go to the meeting in Granada that gathers leaders from the European Union and other states in the region.
Erdogan earlier Wednesday scrapped plans to attend the peace talks, according to people familiar with the matter, citing the president’s busy schedule ahead of his ruling party’s convention on Saturday.
Backed by Erdogan, Aliyev is pushing for a transport corridor across southern Armenia to link Baku to Azerbaijan’s exclave of Naxcivan, bordering Turkey and Iran. That’s prompted fears in Yerevan over a potential military assault by Azerbaijan after Aliyev’s forces took full control of Nagorno-Karabakh last month, effectively ending a 35-year conflict with Armenia.
More than 100,000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have flooded into Armenia, abandoning their homes and possessions in the rush to leave after Azerbaijan’s lightning military assault.
Erdogan has suggested a transport link could go through Naxcivan via Iran to Azerbaijan if Armenia refuses to accept the so-called Zangezur corridor across its territory.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said France would deliver military equipment to Armenia “so that it can ensure its defense” during a visit to Yerevan on Tuesday. In a phone call between US President Joe Biden and European leaders to discuss Ukraine, she also insisted on the need to support Armenia.
Read more: Armenian Exodus Marks a New Front in East-West Power Tussle
Azerbaijan rejected the planned talks with Armenia, France, Germany and the EU because an “anti-Azerbaijani atmosphere” had developed ahead of the meeting, according to the APA news service in Baku.
At meetings with officials from Armenia and Azerbaijan in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran “firmly opposes” the Zangezur Corridor and views it as “a platform for NATO’s presence in the region and a threat to the countries’ national security,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Wednesday he and Aliyev discussed regional security in a phone call and “reaffirmed our commitment to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”
–With assistance from Ania Nussbaum and Patrick Sykes.
(Updates with Pashinyan comment in third paragraph, Iran in last paragraph)
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