Armenia and Azerbaijan made “good progress in normalizing relations based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday.
First, Pashinyan and Aliyev each met separately with the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin. They later came together for joint negotiations. The talks, brokered by Russia, took place against the background of the renewed violent conflict between the two ex-Soviet republics over the border region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave inhabited mostly by Armenians.
Dispute over disputed border region of Nagorno-Karabakh
Most recently, deadly clashes broke out again at the border after Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor, the only connecting road from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, at the end of April. Pashinyan said Yerevan is ready to “open all transport links in the region that pass through Armenian territory.”
For his part, Aliyev had said before the talks that there was a possibility of a peace agreement since Armenia had officially recognized the disputed border region of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan “makes no territorial claims on Armenia,” he added.
Russian President Putin supports talks
After the talks, Putin stated that the situation was developing “in the direction of a settlement of the conflict, despite all the difficulties and problems that still exist”. He announced another top-level trilateral meeting next week in Moscow “to settle remaining issues,” including resuming transport links between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh since the collapse of the Soviet Union and have already fought two wars over the area. After recent fighting in 2020, Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement that forced Armenia to give up large areas.
Mediation by the USA and the EU
After the recent deadly clashes, the USA and the EU had recently increasingly taken the initiative in mediation. In mid-May, Pashinyan and Aliyev agreed to recognize their territorial integrity during talks in Brussels mediated by EU Council President Charles Michel. Moscow views these efforts with suspicion, considering the Caucasus region as a Russian sphere of influence.
Recently, however, Yerevan has expressed increasing frustration at what it sees as insufficient efforts by Moscow to protect Armenia against the military threat posed by Azerbaijan. Moscow is currently heavily involved in the offensive in Ukraine and also does not want to strain its relations with Turkey – Azerbaijan’s most important ally.