Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Friday that the meeting scheduled for December 7 in Brussels with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has been suspended after French President Emmanuel Macron refused to attend, as requested by the Armenian side.
«The meeting in Brussels was supposed to take place on December 7. But yesterday, (presidential foreign advisor) Hikmet Hajiyev informed me that, from Michel’s office they said that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian had agreed to the meeting only on the condition that French President Macron would attend,» the Azerbaijani president explained in statements reported by the Azeri portal Haqqin.
Azerbaijan accuses France of taking a pro-Armenian stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In October, French President Macron’s accusation of Azerbaijan of «launching a terrible and brutal war» there provoked a strong reaction in Baku.
Aliyev has also criticized that the French president «tried to attack» Azerbaijan through last weekend’s Francophonie Summit in Tunis with an attempted resolution «replete with insinuations and accusations.»
«Taking all this into account, it is clear that France cannot take part in the peace talks,» said the leader, who said Baku will consider «other alternatives.» «Let’s see who will take on the role of mediator and on what platform it will be carried out,» he added during a forum in the capital, picked up by the official Azeri agency Azertac.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry has rejected any suggestion that it is trying to derail the talks and merely called for the Brussels meeting to follow the format of the four-way meeting held between the leaders of Armenia, France, Azerbaijan and European Council President Charles Michel in Prague in October this year.
In its response, the Armenian Foreign Ministry merely recalls that the format of the following meetings was agreed upon by all parties in Prague «and it is logical that the format of the meeting and the composition of the participants should be the same,» explained its spokesman, Vahan Hunanyan.
The two countries have been involved in several clashes in recent years over the control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory with a majority Armenian population that has been the focus of conflict since it decided to secede in 1988 from the region of Azerbaijan integrated into the Soviet Union.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a cease-fire on September 15 and in early October agreed to commit themselves to the UN Charter and the 1991 Alma Ata Declaration, through which both countries recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Following this, Pashinian stressed before the Parliament that he expects the peace treaty with Azerbaijan to be signed before the end of the year.
«All statements of the Azerbaijani side accusing the Armenian side of trying to derail the meeting and the peace process have nothing to do with reality. The Republic of Armenia is ready for the December 7 meeting in accordance with the agreement and format reached in Prague,» the Armenian foreign spokesman told the Armenpress national agency.