A meeting between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, held on Thursday at the invitation of the European Council President Charles Michel, ended in Moldova’s capital Chisinau with the sides agreeing to resume talks in Brussels on July 21.
After the one and half-hour long meeting, no joint announcements were released or agreements signed, with Michel saying that the Thursday meeting was “a good preparation” for upcoming talks.
“We had the opportunity to address all the topics that we discussed in Brussels in May – connectivity, security and rights, the border delimitation, the peace treaty,” Michel said in a statement following the meeting.
President Emmanuel Macron of France and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took part in talks before, Pashinyan, Aliyev and Michel held a separate meeting.
“This meeting was a good preparation for the next meeting that will take place in Brussels on 21 July. It means that we are working hard, and we intend to support all the positive efforts in the direction of normalization of the relations,” Michel added.
“I also announced that I intend to invite again President Aliyev, Prime Minister Pashinyan, Chancellor Scholz, and President Macron in the margins of the next meeting of the European Political Community that will take place in Spain. It means that we will do everything on the EU side in order to help, to provide assistance, to make more progress in the direction of normalization of the relations,” Michel said.
“During the meeting, issues related to the unblocking of regional transport and economic infrastructures, border delimitation and border security between the two countries, the agreement on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the need to address the rights and security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, as well as POWs, missing persons and other humanitarian issues were discussed,” Pashinyan’s office said in a press statement following the meeting.
The last time Pashinyan and Aliyev met with Michel in Brussels on May 14, they agreed that Armenia and Azerbaijan would recognize each other’s territorial integrity based on the 1991 Alma Ata document that delineated the borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States after the fall of the Soviet Union.
In a statement following the May 14 meeting, Michel said that he called on Aliyev to ensure security guarantees for the “Armenians living in the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast,” a term used to describe Artsakh before it declared independence and held a referendum affirming that vote in 1991. Michel used the same terminology ahead of the Chisinau (pronounced Kishniyev) meeting on Thursday.
Pashinyan clarified later that his pledge to recognize Azerbaijan 86,600 square kilometers of territory meant that Artsakh would fall under Azerbaijan’s control, a declaration that created uproar among opposition forces in Armenia, the government and people of Artsakh and various forces in the Diaspora.
Pashinyan and Aliyev also met with President Valdimir Putin of Russia in Moscow where they pledged to accelerate efforts to unblock transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Despite these agreements and the West optimistic and positive outlook for an eventual peace deal between Yerevan and Baku, Aliyev continued his belligerent threats against Armenia’s sovereignty and the Armenians of Artsakh.
In an address delivered on May 28 in Lachin, which has been blockaded by Azerbaijan since December 12, Aliyev essentially threatened ethnic cleansing of Armenians living in Artsakh if they did no subject themselves to Baku’s rule. He demanded that government structures in Artsakh be dismantled, after which he would consider “amnesty” for the Artsakh leadership.
The United States welcomed Aliyev’s offer of “amnesty” as an encouraging sign of progress in peace talks. The American reaction was met with denouncements by Armenia and Artsakh, whose foreign ministries pointed to Aliyev’s aggressive threats against Armenia and Artsakh.