Azerbaijan and Armenia have decided to launch a “concrete process” for peace talks, European Council President Charles Michel said Wednesday after a meeting with the two countries’ leaders in Brussels.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Charles Michel said they made “a lot of progress.”
“It means that we have decided all together to launch a concrete process for peace talks to prepare a possible peace treaty and to address all the necessary elements for such a treaty,” he said.
The leaders also agreed to set up a joint committee and to maintain a “channel of communication,” Michel said after the five-hour meeting.
“We are working very hard. We are making progress. I don't underestimate the challenges, the difficulties on both sides, but I feel there's a common will to make progress,” he stressed.
Michel later released a statement about the outcome of the three-way meeting, in which he reiterated the European Union’s commitment to “deepen its cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan” to overcome tensions in the South Caucasus and for a “secure, stable, peaceful and prosperous” region.
According to Michel, Aliyev and Pashinyan both stated their desire to “move rapidly towards a peace agreement between their countries.”
“To this end, it was agreed to instruct the ministers of foreign affairs to work on the preparation of a future peace treaty which would address all necessary issues,” the statement added.
They also agreed to convene a Joint Border Commission by the end of April, the statement noted.
“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 borderline,” it added.
Last December, around a year after the two countries ended a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh, Michel met separately with both leaders and then hosted them both at a dinner in Brussels.
Relations between the two former Soviet countries have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted in September 2020, and a 44-day conflict saw Azerbaijan liberate several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
A tripartite agreement was brokered by Russia to bring an end to the war in November 2020.