BODRUM, Turkey (RFE/RL)—Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has thanked his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev for publicly supporting Azerbaijan’s concerns regarding Armenia’s efforts to join a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet republics.
The two men met in the Turkish city of Bodrum late on Wednesday ahead of a summit of Turkic states.
Aliyev’s press office said they discussed deepening relations between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and engaged in a “broad exchange of opinions” about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“On behalf of himself and our people, President Ilham Aliyev expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev for supporting Azerbaijan’s position in connection with Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council,” the office said in a statement.
The statement referred to the May 29 meeting in Astana that was attended by the presidents of the union’s three member states — Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus — as well as Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Addressing the summit, Nazarbayev said the union’s upcoming accession treaty with Armenia must make a special reference to the latter’s internationally recognized borders.
President Serzh Sarkisian appeared to have been caught off guard by Nazarbayev’s statement and did not respond to the Kazakh leader at the summit. Sarkisian rejected Nazarbayev’s demand only on his return to Armenia.
Nazarbayev similarly echoed Azerbaijani concerns about Yerevan’s membership bid at a Customs Union summit that took place in Moscow last December. “The question of the Custom Union’s border, where it will pass in Armenia, remains open,” he said.
Nazarbayev referred to Armenia’s border with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the absence of any Armenian customs posts there. Armenian leaders have repeatedly assured the domestic public that they will not tax goods coming from Karabakh even after joining the Russian-led trade bloc which is now being transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union.