By Paul Goble
For the first time since March 2021, the tripartite working group of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on the unblocking of transportation corridors has met in Moscow, with the three deputy prime ministers, Aleksey Overchuk, Mger Grigoryan and Shakhin Mustafayev, representing their countries.
The announcement of the meeting, Aktsent’s Anton Chablin, sheds little light on what will be discussed, declaring only that the three sides will discuss “prospects for the restoration of transportation communication.” But it seems clear that the three will focus on the fate of the Zengezur corridor (akcent.site/novosti/15431).
This working group was created by the January 2021 declaration of the three presidents and by the end of March, it had prepared what it called “a road map” for the solution of the dispute. But increasing tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border led to a suspension of the talks.
Now, apparently Moscow has judged that the situation has calmed enough to restart them. But Yerevan and Baku remain far apart. Armenia does not want to discuss the corridor issue independently of the status of Qarabagh, while Azerbaijan insists that the Qarabagh issue is closed and that the sides must focus directly on the transportation issue.
Because that is the case, little immediate progress is likely; but the fact that the sides are talking at all may prove to be a confidence-building measure that will lead to a thawing out of their respective positions. At the very least, Moscow wants to demonstrate that it can play a positive role in this regard and forestall a re-entry of the Minsk Group into the mix.