Azerbaijan wants peace talks with Armenia without Western involvement

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the European Council Charles Michel and  Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan stand in suits in front of their respective flags
No need for European or indeed U.S involvement: Azerbaijan, which has close ties to Turkey, has in recent months repeatedly backed out of peace talks (image: Dursun Aydemir/AA/picture alliance)

Azerbaijan wants bilateral peace talks with Armenia and believes they can reach an agreement quickly without the need for Western mediation, said Azerbaijani presidential adviser Hikmet Hajiyev on Tuesday.

"A peace agreement is not nuclear physics. If there is goodwill, the fundamental principles of a peace agreement can be worked out in a short time," Hajiyev said.

But on the question of Western involvement, he added: "We need peace in our region, not in Washington, Paris or Brussels."

Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought two wars in the past three decades over the territory of Karabakh, a region which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but where a majority ethnic Armenian population broke away and established de facto independence in the 1990s.

Azerbaijan recaptured it in September, prompting a mass exodus of almost all of the territory’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians.

Years of mediation by the European Union, the United States and Russia have failed to get Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign a peace deal. They have yet to agree on the demarcation of their shared border, which remains closed and highly militarised. Border skirmishes, often fatal, remain a regular occurrence.

Azerbaijan, which has close ties to Turkey, has in recent months repeatedly backed out of peace talks brokered by the U.S. and the EU, both of which it has accused of pro-Armenian bias.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan this week credited the EU with helping to bring a peace deal closer, but said the two sides were still "speaking different diplomatic languages".

Hajiyev said the United States had shown "double standards and an unconstructive attitude". Azerbaijan has also been highly critical of France, which said last month it had agreed new contracts to supply military equipment to Armenia.

In a speech at a conference on decolonisation on Tuesday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said France was responsible for "most of the bloody crimes in the colonial history of humanity".      (Reuters)