Azerbaijan seeks direct talks with Armenia to conclude a peace deal without the meditation of Western powers, Azerbaijani presidential adviser Hikmet Hajiyev told Reuters on Nov. 21.
Baku's Foreign Ministry appealed to Yerevan "to avoid new unnecessary delays" and resume negotiations at a "mutually acceptable venue."
"We believe it is up to the two countries to decide together the future of their relations," the ministry's statement read.
Following an Azerbaijani offensive that captured the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in September, concerns grew in Yerevan and the West that Baku may seek to conquer parts of Armenian sovereign territory as well.
To bolster Armenia against further potential aggression, France provided Yerevan with defense equipment, sparking condemnations from Azerbaijan.
"France destabilizes not only its past and present colonies but also our region, the South Caucasus, by supporting separatist tendencies and separatists," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said.
"By arming Armenia, it implements a militaristic policy, encourages revanchist forces in Armenia, and prepares the ground for the start of new wars in our region."
France responded that it was working toward just and durable peace based on respect for sovereignty and borders.
The two South Caucasian countries have fought several wars over Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1990s. This de jure Azerbaijani territory was, until September, under de facto control of internationally unrecognized ethnic Armenian authorities. On Baku's orders, the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is to be dissolved on Jan. 1, 2024.
Yerevan and Baku have so far failed to reach an agreement on peace and demarcation of their mutual, heavily militarized border. Baku has repeatedly backed out of talks mediated by the U.S. or the EU, accusing them of pro-Armenian bias.