YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—A senior European Union diplomat has met with deputy prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan for further discussions on the planned opening of transport links between the two countries.
Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special representative to the South Caucasus, described the separate talks as “excellent.”
“Good to see strong commitment from both sides,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Klaar visited Baku and Yerevan on Wednesday and Thursday respectively as Russia sought to wrest back the initiative in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process following an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit organized by the EU in Brussels on April 6.
Meeting outside Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reaffirmed Russia’s key role in the international peace efforts.
In a joint statement, Putin and Pashinyan stressed the importance of “revitalizing” the work of a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission dealing with practical modalities of reopening regional transport links.
“The Russian side is ready to take part in projects to restore the railway infrastructure of Armenia, including the railway in Syunik and other regions of Armenia,” read the statement.
It was a clear reference to a 45-kilometer railway which is expected to connect Azerbaijan with its Nakhichevan exclave through Syunik.
The EU indicated after Pashinyan’s April 6 talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that it is ready to finance the restoration of Armenian-Azerbaijani rail and road links.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted on April 8 that it was Putin who had brokered Armenian-Azerbaijani understandings on these and other confidence-building measures. Lavrov accused the EU of seeking to sideline Moscow and use the Karabakh conflict in the standoff over Ukraine.
An Armenian government statement noted that the “unblocking of regional transport links” discussed by Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan and Klaar is envisioned by a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the war in Karabakh in November 2020.
Pashinyan spoke with European Council President Charles Michel by phone on the eve of his visit to Russia.