YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Senior Armenian and Azerbaijani officials held on Thursday another round of direct negotiations on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, a key hurdle to a comprehensive peace deal between the two nations.
The fifth joint session of Armenian and Azerbaijani government commissions on border demarcation and delimitation took place at a relatively peaceful section of the heavily militarized frontier. It was co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Shahin Mustfayev.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the commissions headed by the two men continued to discuss “a number of organizational and procedural issues” and agreed to step up their joint work. It did not report progress on substantive issues, notably the mechanism for border delimitation.
Yerevan insists on using late Soviet-era military maps as a basis in that process. Baku has until now rejected the idea backed by the European Union. Senior Armenian officials have suggested that it is reluctant to recognize Armenia’s current borders and wants to leave the door open for future territorial claims.
In October, Azerbaijani President Aliyev again accused Armenia of occupying “eight Azerbaijani villages” amid growing fears in Yerevan that that he is planning another military offensive after regaining control over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Aliyev referred to several small enclaves inside Armenia which were controlled by Azerbaijan in Soviet times and occupied by the Armenian army in the early 1990s. For its part, the Azerbaijani side seized at the time a bigger Armenian enclave comprising the village of Artsvashen and surrounding farmland and pastures.
The two sides agreed to hold fresh delimitation talks after Baku offered on November 21 to negotiate directly with Yerevan on a bilateral peace treaty. The offer came after Aliyev twice cancelled EU-mediated talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in October.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers attended on Thursday an annual ministerial conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje. An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they are not scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the gathering.