Armenia, Azerbaijan optimistic ahead of Moscow talks

AFP , Thursday 25 May 2023

The leaders of arch foes Armenia and Azerbaijan said ahead of talks in Moscow on Thursday, that they were advancing towards normalising ties, following mutual recognition of territorial integrity.

Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia, Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia and Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbai
FILE PHOTO: Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov of Russia, Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia and Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbaijan, accompanied by a number of officials, hold a trilateral meeting in Moscow on May 19, 2023. AFP


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke ahead of a face-to-face meeting later Thursday and subsequent talks to be hosted by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a decades-long conflict for control of Azerbaijan's predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"There is a possibility of coming to a peace agreement, considering that Armenia has formally recognised Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan," Aliyev told the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.

"Azerbaijan has no territorial claims to Armenia," he added.

Pashinyan said the two countries were "making good progress in normalising relationships, based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity."

He said Yerevan was ready "to unblock all the transport links in the region that pass through Armenian territory."

The Caucasus neighbours have been seeking to negotiate a peace agreement with the help of the European Union and United States.

On May 14, they agreed -- at a meeting hosted in Brussels by the European Council President Charles Michel -- on mutual recognition of territorial integrity.

The West's diplomatic engagement in the Caucasus has irked traditional regional power broker Russia.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two wars -- in 2020 and in the 1990s -- for control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Six weeks of hostilities in autumn 2020 ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

Armenia, which has relied on Russia for military and economic support since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has accused Moscow of failing to fulfil its peacekeeping role in Karabakh.

With Russia bogged down in Ukraine and unwilling to strain ties with Azerbaijan's key ally Turkey, the United States and European Union have sought to repair ties between the Caucasus rivals.

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