Armenia, Azerbaijan Exchange Blame Over Karabakh At Black Sea Summit in Istanbul


ISTANBUL (RFE/RL) — Representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations over the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh during the 25th anniversary summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) held in Istanbul on Monday, May 22, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voicing objections to the speech of the Armenian deputy foreign minister.

Representatives of about a dozen countries participating in the organization, including Armenia, made speeches at the opening of the summit. According to Turkey’s Dogan news agency, in a clear reference to Armenia Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Oktay Asadov said in his speech that “one of the members of the organization has not abandoned its toxic ideology.”

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ashot Hovakimian, responding to Azerbaijan’s representative, was quoted as saying that “the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is not a place for voicing accusations.”

Turkish President Erdogan, for his part, reportedly agreed with this statement of the Armenian representative, but added, addressing his words to him: “No representative here has voiced accusations or assessments. It was you who fully dedicated your speech to political assessments.”

According to the official website of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in his speech at the BSEC summit Hovakimian criticized Azerbaijan for its belligerent policies and for torpedoing peace efforts of Armenia and international mediators in resolving the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“Accusations, war rhetoric and unilateral maximalist demands cannot resolve the conflict. It is possible to achieve progress in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict if Azerbaijan abandons its policy of the use of force and engages in good faith in the negotiations within the framework agreed by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Minsk Group,” the Armenian diplomat, in particular, said.

The Armenian ministry reports that the BSEC summit in Istanbul adopted an anniversary declaration where it reaffirmed the economic nature of the organization.