Azerbaijan, Armenia hold EU-led meeting

Azerbaijan, Armenia hold EU-led meeting

Azerbaijan, Armenia hold EU-led meeting

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to hold further talks to delimitate and demarcate the state borders of the two countries and start the railway transportation with each other on Dec. 14.

The decisions were taken in a trilateral meeting held by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, in Brussels.

“The common aim of all three leaders is to build a South Caucasus that is secure, stable and prosperous for the benefit of all people living in the region,” the council said in a statement published following the meeting.

“Aliyev and Pashinyan agreed to have planned launch of negotiations on the delimitation and demarcation of the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the statement said.

The European Union will make available an “expert mission/consultative group” to support the border issue by providing technical assistance to both countries.

“In the context of the negotiations, further tangible steps will need to be taken to reduce tensions on the ground to ensure a conducive atmosphere for the talks,” the statement added.

The second decision taken in the meeting was about the communications lines and the railway transportation.

“Michel also emphasized the importance of restoring communications infrastructure between Armenia and Azerbaijan in particular and the South Caucasus more broadly, while fully respecting the sovereignty of all countries,” it noted.

“It was agreed to proceed with the restoration of railway lines, with appropriate arrangements for border and customs controls, based on the principle of reciprocity,” it said.

According to daily Milliyet, the Armenian side in the meeting repeated its undertaking to construct a railway system on its soil, reassuring that the railway construction “will begin as soon as possible.”

The Azerbaijani Presidency also issued a statement following the meeting, reaffirming that “the meeting was held in a positive atmosphere.”

The leaders also discussed key existing and prospective trade and economic partnerships between the EU and both countries.

“They also discussed the EU’s intention to launch an economic advisory platform to build confidence, contribute to peaceful coexistence and build up economic cooperation in the region,” the council added.

To prevent such border clashes that have emerged recently, the leaders agreed to establish a direct communication link between both countries’ defense ministries.

“This mechanism can serve to make a positive impact by helping de-escalate tensions on the ground,” it said.

The latest topic on the table was the “humanitarian issues.”

Michel pointed out Baku’s step to release 10 Armenian detainees and Yerevan’s handover of all remaining mine maps. According to the council’s statement, “Michel called for the full and speedy resolution of all outstanding humanitarian issues, such as the release of further detainees and addressing the fate of missing persons, while recognizing that humanitarian gestures by both sides also promote confidence and help create an environment conducive to progress towards peace and reconciliation.”

The meeting came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s remarks on Dec. 14 about current initiatives by Turkey and Armenia to start steps to normalize ties.

In his address to the Turkish Parliament, Çavuğşolu noted that “Turkey and Armenia will appoint special representatives to discuss steps.”

“Charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan would restart soon,” he added.

The U.S. welcomed the step late on Dec. 14. “We welcome and strongly support statements by Turkish Foreign Minister @MevlutCavusoglu and @MFAofArmenia on appointing Special Envoys to discuss the process of normalization,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter.