Armenia and Azerbaijan announced on Thursday (April 7) the launch of preparations for peace talks to resolve three decades of conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been the scene of two wars, one of them in 2020.
The decision was made during a meeting organized on Wednesday in Brussels between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, mediated by European Council President Charles Michel.
After their talks in Brussels, the two heads of state ordered their foreign ministers to do so “The start of preparations for peace talks between the two countries”The Armenian diplomat announced in a statement on Thursday.
An agreement was reached during this meeting (…) to establish a bilateral commission on border demarcation issues.This committee will be particularly responsible for ensuring its security and stability. For its part, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the future agreement will be based on it “Basic principles proposed by Azerbaijan earlier”.
Charles Michel assured him “President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed their desire to move quickly towards a peace agreement.”. The Kremlin welcomed a new file “Very positive”. But his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stressed that the process was continuing “Takes a lot of time”.
Olesya Vartanian, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, points out that the announcement is a sign ‘Great progress from both countries’. This is it “An important concrete step towards a peace agreement brokered for the first time by the European Union.”Azerbaijani political analyst Mehman Aliyev echoed.
Tensions escalated at the end of March
The mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, inhabited mainly by Armenians, broke away from Azerbaijan at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the outbreak of the first war in the 1990s that killed 30,000 people and hundreds of thousands of residents. Azerbaijani refugees.
In November 2020, a six-week conflict broke out again between the two former Soviet republics for control of the region. It ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire. This war, which left 6,500 dead, ended in a heavy defeat for Armenia, and the latter was forced to surrender the important territories it had controlled since the first war from which it emerged victorious, at the beginning of the nineties.
Like Baku, Yerevan had, in recent days, expressed its desire to resume its diplomatic endeavors after a new escalation of tensions. At the end of March, Russia accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire negotiated by Vladimir Putin to end the 2020 conflict. Under this agreement, a Russian peacekeeping force is to be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to Moscow, the Azerbaijani army occupied an area there and used attack drones. Armenia also accused Baku of cutting off gas from the area and preventing residents from heating despite the winter weather. Azerbaijan denied these accusations, claiming sovereignty over the region.
Tuesday evening, the eve of the meeting between m. Pashinyan and Aliyev, thousands of Armenians demonstrated in the capital, Yerevan, to protest possible concessions to Azerbaijan.