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Putin’s War In Ukraine Gives EU An Opening For Talks With Armenia And Azerbaijan – OpEd

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Because Moscow is focused on its war in Ukraine, the European Union has hosted two meetings with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously to press for an agreement on border delimitation between the two and to exclude Russia from the talks, Russian experts say.

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But without Moscow which has troops on the ground in the region, the three experts with whom Kavkaz-Uzel spoke, the EU talks are unlikely to make significant progress because Brussels lacks the leverage Russia retains even if at present it is focused elsewhere (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/377454/).

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the EU has hosted two talks with the South Caucasus presidents, on April 6 and May 22. In both cases, the talks proceeded in the same way, first with bilateral meetings between each and then with trilateral conversations. The three Russian experts stressed that t,his was normal diplomatic practice.

The first meeting led to a lowering of tensions between Baku and Yerevan, and the second to a renewal of earlier declarations about the need to delimit the borders and unblock transportation routes. But the latter did not represent a breakthrough toward a peace agreement as the two sides remain far apart on that.

The most important aspect of these talks, Akhmet Yarlykapov of MGIMO says, was that they represented an attempt to exclude Moscow from the negotiating process and to give the EU a chance to assume the lead as a mediator. Two other Moscow experts, Arkady Dubnov and Aleksandr Krylov, agree but say that the EU alone isn’t likely to have much success.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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