Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan (right) meets Toivo Klaar, EU special representative to the South Caucasus, January 18, 2024.

By Siranuysh Gevorgian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Just like a US envoy before him, the European Union’s special representative to the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, refrained from proceeding to Baku after holding talks with senior Armenian officials in Yerevan on Thursday, January 18.

The Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process was the main focus of the talks. Klaar’s office told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on January 19 that he will not visit the Azerbaijani capital this time around because of the ongoing presidential election campaign in Azerbaijan. It downplayed this fact, saying that the European diplomat remains “in close touch” with Azerbaijani officials.

The US envoy, Louis Bono, visited Yerevan last week to discuss continuing US attempts to reschedule a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to host in Washington on November 20. Baku canceled the meeting in protest. against what he called pro-Armenian statements made by James O’Brien, the US assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.

According to some Azerbaijani media outlets, Azerbaijani officials refused to receive Bono. The US embassies in both South Caucasus nations did not deny the snub.

Also, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev twice withdrew from EU-mediated talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan slated for October. Aliyev’s top foreign policy aide said afterwards that Baku and Yerevan do not need third-party mediation in order to negotiate a bilateral peace treaty.

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Last week, Aliyev again demanded the opening of an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia’s Syunik province and Armenian withdrawal from “eight Azerbaijani villages.” And he continued to dismiss Yerevan’s insistence on using the most recent Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Pashinyan rejected Aliyev’s demands, saying that they amount to territorial claims to Armenia and undermine prospects for the kind of peace treaty that is backed by the EU and the US

Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan complained about Aliyev’s “unconstructive” remarks when he met with Klaar on Thursday. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Kostanyan also accused Baku of hampering transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan.



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