Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Contradicts Armenian Counterpart on Troop Withdrawal

HongKong – Dec 17 2023

By: Rizwan Shah

In a recent joint press conference, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov contradicted the views of his Armenian counterpart on the topic of troop withdrawal from the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This response came following a statement by the Armenian Foreign Minister, in which he expressed hope for continued discussions on troop withdrawal, suggesting that it could prevent potential escalations.

Bayramov highlighted the complexity of the issue, arguing that selectively presenting elements discussed in negotiations can lead to misunderstanding. He pointed out that the Azerbaijan-Armenia border has not been delimited, which further complicates matters. The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister asserted that without a comprehensive agreement, troop withdrawal could risk positions being retaken.

Bayramov further stated that a proposal for troop withdrawal was unacceptable to Azerbaijan, underscoring that the Azerbaijani Army is tasked with protecting the country’s borders. He emphasized that this was not a position arrived at through goodwill or invitation, but a duty reclaimed after 30 years of sacrifice. Bayramov stressed that the protection of Azerbaijan’s borders lies solely with its own soldiers and cannot be entrusted to a third party.

Bayramov urged Armenia to consider Azerbaijan’s constructive proposals for positive developments. The press conference also covered a variety of other topics, including additional flight delays from Baku to Nakhchivan, political developments in Russia, incidents in other regions, and weather conditions.

In other related news, a prisoner exchange was successfully executed, as announced by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Facebook. The exchange involved 32 servicemen captured by Azerbaijan since 2020 who are now back in Armenia. Initial Azerbaijani reports indicated the exchange would take place along the Ijevan-Kazakh stretch of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, involving two captured Azerbaijani prisoners. This release forms part of a deal announced last week in a rare joint statement between the two countries, which included Armenia dropping its veto of Azerbaijan hosting next year’s COP29 UN Climate Change Conference.