Azerbaijan, Armenia Agree to Take Steps Towards Normalisation

Azerbaijan, Armenia Agree to Take Steps Towards Normalisation

EU and US welcome joint statement in which two sides agree to exchange prisoners of war and Armenia backs Azerbaijan COP29 bid.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have said they will exchange prisoners of war and work towards normalising their relations, in a move welcomed by the European Union and the United States.

The two countries have been locked in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan reclaimed after a lightning offensive against Armenian separatists in September.

In a joint statement issued late on Thursday night, the two sides said they had agreed to seize “a historical chance to achieve a long-awaited peace in the region” and hoped to sign a peace treaty before the end of the year.

“The two countries reconfirm their intention to normalise relations and to reach the peace treaty on the basis of respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement added.

Until Thursday’s announcement, the two countries had argued bitterly on the outline of a peace process amid mutual distrust.

The statement said Baku will free 32 Armenian prisoners of war, while Yerevan will release two Azerbaijani servicemen, in agreements reached during talks between the office of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the administration of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

The two countries also said they “will continue their discussions regarding the implementation of more confidence-building measures, effective in the near future, and call on the international community to support their efforts”.