Frequency of meetings between leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan

On March 29, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Vienna. Though Pashinyan and Aliyev have already had the opportunity to meet and get acquainted with each other in Moscow, then in Dushanbe and St. Petersburg, and in January this year in Davos, this will be the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

In general, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan mainly meet either with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs or the leaders of the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.

There is no clear chronology of meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders as such. OSCE press releases and statements can be used as a source of recovering the chronology especially for the 1990s and 2000s, since the OSCE has been carrying out a mediation mission in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992. It is noteworthy that in such OSCE statements there is mentioning of only one meeting between Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Azeri President Heydar Aliyev, which took place in Luxembourg in 1996.

According to the OSCE statements and press releases, numerous meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place during the administration of second president Robert Kocharyan. Thus, in 1999, Robert Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev met six times. Moreover, in April and August there were two meetings between them each month. These meetings took place in Moscow, Washington, Geneva, Yalta and bordering Sardarak village in Nakhichevan.

In 2000, there were 6 meetings between Robert Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev in Moscow, Davos, New York and Minsk. In 2001, the meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders started in Paris, in January and March, and then continued in Key West in April. Another meeting in 2001 took place in Sochi in August.

It should be noted that the intensity of the meetings of the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders in this period was related to the negotiations in Key West, and the purpose of these meetings as a result of the mediation efforts of the OSCE was to reach agreement in the Key West negotiations. As we know, this did not happen, and later the parties refused from the principles of the Key West negotiations, and the meetings between the Armenian and Azeri leaders became less frequent, due to the upcoming presidential elections in both countries.

In 2002 Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev met only once, after which the negotiations took place in 2003 with Kocharyan and Ilham Aliyev, the next president of Azerbaijan, and son of Heydar Aliyev. In 2004, Kocharyan and Ilham Aliyev met twice, and three times in 2006. The last meeting between Kocharyan and Ilham Aliyev took place in St. Petersburg in June 2007.

In 2008, Robert Kocharyan was followed by Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia. His first meeting with Ilham Aliyev took place at the NATO summit in Brussels in April 2008. In 2008, Sargsyan and Aliyev also met in St. Petersburg in June, and in Moscow in November. More intensive negotiations took place in 2009. Sargsyan and Aliyev met in Prague, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Chisinau and Munich. In 2010, Sargsyan-Aliyev meetings were also held in Sochi, St. Petersburg and Astana.

As in the case of Key West negotiations, the contacts between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders intensified before the important Kazan meeting in 2011 when it was expected that an agreement could be reached between the parties. In 2011, before the talks in Kazan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev also met in Sochi.

However, no agreement could be reached In Kazan, and accordingly, the frequency of meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders decreased. Thus, in 2012, Sargsyan and Aliyev met only once in Sochi, and in 2013 in Vienna. Some activation was observed in 2014, when three meetings were held in August, September and October, respectively, in Sochi, Newport and Paris. In December 2015, the last meeting before the 2016 April War was held between Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev in Bern.

After the four-day war, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev had two important meetings in Vienna and St. Petersburg, during which agreements were reached on the mechanisms of ceasefire consolidation. The last meeting in Serzh Sargsyan – Ilham Aliyev format took place in Geneva in October 2017, after which the negotiations between the two countries were frozen in general due to the domestic political developments in Armenia.

To sum up the brief overview of the meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders, we can state that the talks between the two countries were activated and reached their peak before the Key West and Kazan negotiations. However, it was impossible to reach an agreement during those talks, and the negotiation process was frozen.

The position of the new authorities of the Republic of Armenia, represented by Nikol Pashinyan, on the necessity of bringing Artsakh back to the negotiating table can introduce some changes in the logic of the Karabakh conflict settlement. But it should be noted that there is little chance of constructive dialogue with Azerbaijan. And as it was the case before, Azerbaijan again exacerbates tensions on the contact line and on the Armenian border before the commencement of the official talks.

Vahe Ghukasyan

Union of Informed Citizens

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