Armenia, Azerbaijan Make Progress Toward Peace Deal
(RFE/RL) The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to start drafting a bilateral "peace treaty" and set up a joint commission on demarcating their common border during fresh talks in Brussels hosted by European Council President Charles Michel.
"We have decided all together to launch a concrete process, to prepare a possible peace treaty and to address all necessary elements for such a treaty," Michel told reporters late on April 6 after his trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that lasted for more than four hours.
"I am confident that tonight we took an important step in the right direction," he said. "It doesn't mean everything is solved. But it means that we made progress."
In a written statement issued shortly afterward, Michel said Aliyev and Pashinian pledged to "move rapidly" toward a comprehensive treaty meant to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They will instruct their foreign ministers to "work on the preparation" of such a deal, the head of the European Union's main decision-making body added.
The Armenian government's press office confirmed these instructions in a statement on the late-night talks.
Baku wants the peace deal to be based on five elements, including a mutual recognition of each other's territorial integrity. Pashinian has publicly stated that they are acceptable to Yerevan in principle, fueling Armenian opposition claims that he is ready to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.
Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said last week that Yerevan will also raise the issue of Karabakh's status with the Azerbaijani side. The Armenian government statement on the Brussels talks made no mention of that issue.
Michel said after the talks that the two sides now had a better understanding of possible parameters of the deal. But he did not elaborate.
The top EU official also announced that Aliyev and Pashinian agreed to "convene a joint border commission by the end of April."
"The mandate of the joint border commission will be to delimit the bilateral border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and ensure a stable security situation along and in the vicinity of the border line," he said.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders already agreed to set up such a commission during their November 2021 talks in Sochi hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was expected that Russian officials will actively participate in the commission's work.
It was not immediately clear whether Yerevan and Baku had agreed to exclude Russia from any role in the border demarcation.