Meeting in Brussels, Azerbaijani, Armenian Leaders Agree to Step Up Work on Peace Treaty

Meeting in Brussels, Azerbaijani, Armenian Leaders Agree to Step Up Work on Peace Treaty

Leaders had ‘open, productive’ talk in Brussels, says European Council head Charles Michel

Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders agreed to accelerate work on a peace treaty, European Council President Charles Michel announced on Wednesday following their negotiations in Brussels. 

Michel hosted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in the EU capital as part of the bloc’s diplomatic initiative to ensure peace in the South Caucasus and normalize relations between the countries.

In a statement released after the negotiations, Michel thanked both leaders for the “open and productive” exchanges and said “quite a few steps have been taken to take forward the agreements reached during our last meeting” in April.

He stressed that it is important to prepare the public opinion on both sides “for a long-term sustainable peace,” and reassured the countries that the EU is ready to increase its support to reach this goal.

The leaders agreed “to step up substantive work to advance on the peace treaty governing inter-state relations,” Michel said, adding that Azerbaijani and Armenian diplomats are expected to meet within a month to draft the text.

They reviewed the border questions and agreed to hold the next meeting of the border committee in November in Brussels after it convened earlier this week in Moscow.

The leaders also discussed humanitarian issues, including the release of detainees and the fate of missing people, as well as options to relaunch transport between the two countries.

Michel, Pashinyan, and Aliyev are set to continue the talks in Brussels in November.

Michel, who presides over meetings of EU leaders and represents the bloc in international affairs, has made significant diplomatic efforts for reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan following their conflict in the fall of 2020.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

In 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia, and the fighting ended with a deal brokered by Russia.

Clashes between the two armies restarted in early August.

Last week, Aliyev announced that the Azerbaijani army had moved into the strategic city of Lachin in Karabakh.