Azerbaijan says ‘no alternative’ to normalization with Armenia
“We currently await Armenia to respond to our suggestions, and if they accept our terms, we are prepared to continue our dialogue,” Bayramov told a news conference alongside his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Baku on Saturday.
The top diplomats met in the Azerbaijani capital during a regional visit by Baerbock, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said, to discuss the current cooperation agenda between their countries and regional and international security issues.
The ministers also exchanged updates on the current situation and realities in the Karabakh region, including large-scale restoration and construction works and mine threats, as well as peace talks with Armenia, according to the statement.
An environment of trust is vital to resolve this conflict in the South Caucasus region, Baerbock told reporters.
Baerbock arrived in Baku from Yerevan, where she also said that European moderation efforts “are a bridge and the fastest way to peace.”
The Armenian residents of Karabakh are hoping they can return to the territory, Baerbock said. She also urged Azerbaijan to facilitate an opportunity for their “dignified return.”
She argued a “consistent peace process would be to the benefit of Azerbaijan” and stressed that the territorial integrity of both nations must constitute the foundation of a peace agreement.
Germany and the EU-facilitated talks could facilitate long-term peace, she said, adding that her country was willing to support Azerbaijan in clearing mines in Karabakh.
Bayramov, however, emphasized the need for Azerbaijan and Armenia to express their willpower during negotiations, which he said could take place under “any format.”
“Azerbaijan wants dialogue to continue,” he said.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have held several rounds of peace talks under EU mediation. Both leaders have said a peace treaty could be signed in the coming months.
Baerbock in Baku said she had “expressed concern that with certain actors, doubts can be raised whether they negotiate as honest brokers for peace on the ground.”
Last month, Aliyev refused to attend a round of peace talks with Pashinyan in Spain over what he said was France’s “biased position.”
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had been scheduled to join EU chief Charles Michel as mediators at those talks.
So far, there has been no visible progress in EU efforts to organize a fresh round of negotiations.
The Caucasus neighbors have been locked in a decadeslong conflict for control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated region of Karabakh since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied the territory and seven adjacent regions.
Most of Karabakh was liberated by Azerbaijan during a war in the fall of 2020, which ended after a Russian-brokered peace agreement and also opened the door to normalization.
This September, the Azerbaijani army initiated a counterterrorism operation in Karabakh to establish constitutional order in the region, after which illegal separatist forces in the region surrendered.
Azerbaijan, having now established full sovereignty in the region, has reiterated its call on the Armenian population in Karabakh to become part of Azerbaijani society.
The sides have sought to end their conflict with a peace deal, but progress has been slow. Baku and Yerevan last held talks in Tehran last month at a meeting attended by representatives from Türkiye and Russia.
In late October, Pashinyan said a peace agreement would be signed “in the coming month.”
The EU and the U.S. have made their own efforts to mediate a peace agreement between the two sides. Russia, the traditional power broker in the region, has seen its role diminish since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Both Russia and Iran, who have backed Armenia in the conflict, are against European and U.S. interference in tensions between the South Caucasus rivals.
They have called for a peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.