How will the meeting of Putin, Aliyev and Pashinyan end?

How will the meeting of Putin, Aliyev and Pashinyan end?

Tomorrow, Sochi will host trilateral talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The meeting will be held at the initiative of the Russian side and will be timed to the anniversary of the signing of the trilateral Statement on a ceasefire in Karabakh.The summit is of high political importance, as it was originally scheduled to take place in the first half of November but was postponed due to armed escalation on several area of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Holding a meeting between the conflicting parties under the chairmanship of the Russian side has become a matter of political image. The failure to prepare for the talks at the beginning of the month and the subsequent proposal of European diplomacy to transfer the discussion of the problems of the post-war settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations to the fields of the Eastern Partnership summit could negatively affect Russia's reputation as a regional moderator. Therefore, Moscow decided to be proactive and hold a meeting between Vladimir Putin and the heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan before the European Union does.

Here it is worth paying attention to how pragmatically the place and time of the meeting were chosen. From the moment of the announcement to the moment of the negotiations, there are only three days, because during this time it is extremely difficult to organize a sabotage capable of disrupting the meeting, which is of such fundamental importance, including for Russia. In addition, it will not be difficult for the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to arrive in Sochi, since the flight to this Russian city from Baku or Yerevan takes about one hour.

The Armenian political elite is in a state of permanent stress. Obviously, Nikol Pashinyan will not be able to evade participation in the negotiations in the presence of Vladimir Putin this time. The meeting promises to be difficult, as Yerevan will have to account for the implementation of the trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020. Taking into account the fact that over the past period the Armenian side has not done anything that could determine further steps to strengthen stability and establish a peaceful life in the region, it will be difficult for Pashinyan to accuse Baku of destabilization, since the Azerbaijani side is in full swing restoring the lost social and road infrastructure in border areas and not only there. 

Perhaps fearing the signing of an agreement that is unpopular in the context of Armenian internal politics of agreement, Pashinyan revealed that "the only document that could be potentially signed will be that Armenia and Azerbaijan will create a commission on demarcation and delimitation." It can be assumed that the initiative to create this superfluous body will become the main thesis of the Armenian side, which is clearly not ready for new constructive negotiations.

The hopelessness of the delimitation commission is determined by the fact that the issue of demarcation has been placed far beyond the brackets of the Armenian political agenda. The delimitation was not directly discussed between Baku and Yerevan and was not carried out with the participation of the military departments of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The effectiveness of the alleged organ is not encouraging. Since it is necessary to approve the composition of the above-mentioned commission before it can start work. This process can be artificially delayed or create even more contradictions.

Azerbaijan's positions in the upcoming negotiations are more solid, since Baku has reason to assert that the policy pursued by Yerevan contains elements of subversive activity. In particular, this concerns the reluctance of the Armenian military to transfer maps of minefields, the use of these documents as an element of bargaining and speculation on the topic of Armenian citizens detained in Azerbaijan, whose number is constantly overestimated by Yerevan.

It is difficult to doubt Baku's striving to implement the points of the trilateral November Statement as soon as possible, since the implementation of the agreements fully meets the interests of the intra-regional Azerbaijani policy. The only thing that Pashinyan can cling to is the Zangezur Corridor project, in which Armenia does not see any transit, including financial, interests for itself. Moreover, this project directly proceeds from the agreements of the November Statement.

For Russian diplomacy, the most acceptable outcome of the upcoming negotiations is the achievement of an agreement or at least an interim solution to the question of restoring and developing trade, economic and transport links or demarcating the interstate border.

Since the summit is being prepared at a high government level, its completion does not provide for declarative statements. The negotiations in Sochi can be considered successful if the conditions are determined between the parties, on the basis of which it will be possible to conclude a final peace treaty.