Armenia, Azerbaijan to launch peace talks
Armenia and Azerbaijan said yesterday they were gearing up for peace talks after a decades-long conflict that has left thousands dead and erupted into an all-out war in 2020.
The two countries were at the centre of a six-week war in 2020 that claimed more than 6,500 lives before it ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement.
Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev met on April 6 in Brussels for rare talks mediated by the European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, the two leaders “ordered foreign ministers to begin preparatory work for peace talks between the two countries,” the foreign ministry in Yerevan said in a statement.
“An agreement was reached during the meeting... to set up a bilateral commission on the issues of delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijan border, which will be in charge of ensuring security and stability along the frontier,” the ministry added.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry also said works were under way to begin peace talks, adding that future peace treaty would be based “on the basic principles proposed earlier by Azerbaijan.”
Russia welcomed the moves towards a treaty, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: “The progress on concluding such a document is a very, very positive fact and is welcomed.”
The European Union said Michel “noted both President Aliyev’s and Prime Minister Pashinyan’s stated desire to move rapidly towards a peace agreement between their countries.”
“To this end, it was agreed to instruct Ministers of Foreign Affairs to work on the preparation of a future peace treaty, which would address all necessary issues,” it added in a statement.
“What is extremely important in that situation is that the EU has assumed a lead role in mediating between Baku and Yerevan,” The International Crisis Group analyst for South Caucasus, Olesya Vartanyan, told AFP.
Azerbaijani political analyst Mehman Aliyev called the move “an important tangible step towards a peace agreement made for the first time under the European Union mediation.”
Yerevan also called on Baku to start peace talks “without delay.” Baku agreed, saying it had already put forward such a proposal a year ago.
Baku tabled in mid-March its set of framework proposals for the peace agreement that includes both sides’ mutual recognition of territorial integrity, meaning Yerevan should agree on Karabakh being part of Azerbaijan.
Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflicts claimed around 30,000 lives.