Azerbaijan's Aliyev to skip EU talks with Armenia, as Yerevan slams Baku for arresting Karabakh leaders

Azerbaijan's Aliyev to skip EU talks with Armenia, as Yerevan slams Baku for arresting Karabakh leaders
Azerbaijan's president will not attend a EU-brokered event to hold talks with his Armenian counterpart, claiming that he felt "an anti-Azerbaijani atmosphere".
2 min read
The meeting was due to discuss the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, but Aliyev decided not to attend [Getty]

Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, has decided against attending an EU-brokered event in Spain where he could have held talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani state media reported on Wednesday.

Aliyev had been considering taking part in a five-way meeting in Granada, Spain, on Thursday with the leaders of France, Germany, Armenia and EU Council President Charles Michel.

The five were due to discuss the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh region after Baku took back full control in a 24-hour military operation launched on 19 September, and to review the progress of long-running but troubled peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Azerbaijan's state-run APA news agency, citing unnamed sources, said Aliyev had decided against attending however.

It said Aliyev had wanted Turkey to be represented at the meeting, but that France and Germany had objected, and said that Baku felt "an anti-Azerbaijani atmosphere" had developed among the meeting's potential participants.

In particular, APA cited what it said was discontent in Baku around a statement made by Michel and what it regarded as "pro-Armenian statements" by French officials and France's decision, announced on Tuesday, to supply Yerevan with military equipment.

APA said that Azerbaijan would not attend any future talks which included France, but remained potentially open to possible three-way meetings with the EU and Armenia.

Separately on Wednesday, Armenia criticised Azerbaijan for arresting several separatist leaders from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since the takeover, the majority of Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenian population has fled and separatist leaders - including reported billionaire and former official Ruben Vardanyan - have been detained.

"We strongly condemn the arrests by Azerbaijan of the leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh," Armenia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The Republic of Armenia will take all possible steps to protect the rights of the illegally arrested representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, including in international courts," it said.

Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev said criminal investigations had been initiated into crimes committed by 300 separatist officials.

But the United Nations human rights office has urged Baku to afford Vardanyan and other detainees "full respect and protection".