According to Azerbaijani state media, President Ilham Aliyev has chosen not to attend an EU-brokered event in Spain where he may have met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Aliyev was considering attending a five-way meeting on Thursday in Granada, Spain, with the leaders of France, Germany, Armenia, and EU Council President Charles Michel.
The five were scheduled to debate the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory after Baku reclaimed complete control in a 24-hour military operation on Sept. 19, as well as the status of long-running but difficult peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
However, according to Azerbaijan’s state-run APA news agency, citing anonymous sources, Aliyev has chosen not to attend. There was no formal confirmation that Aliyev will not attend the meeting.
APA 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.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna held talks with Armenia’s Pashinyan in Yerevan on Tuesday, the first trip there by a Western government minister since Azerbaijani forces retook Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned what it said were unfounded comments by Colonna, who had voiced support for Armenia and its territorial integrity.
APA said that Azerbaijan would not attend any future talks that included France, but remained potentially open to possible three-way meetings with the EU and Armenia.
Speaking at a hearing in parliament on Wednesday, Colonna said Paris was not looking to escalate the crisis, but that it was normal to continues defensive weapons’ sales to Yerevan when “Azerbaijan has never stopped arming itself to carry out offensive actions”.
Colonna said the EU should send a clear signal that any attempt to threaten Armenia’s territorial integrity could not be accepted.
“I repeat, any action in this direction would give rise to robust reactions,” she said.