Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan will be meeting in Brussels on May 14 at the invitation of the President of European Council Charles Michel, his spokesperson said Monday, confirming speculation about a meeting first reported by the Financial Times.
The Brussels meeting comes on the heels of four days of talks last week between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, who met in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va. at the invitation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Michel’s spokesperson, Barend Leyts, said the May 14 talks will be followed by a meeting attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova on June 1.
“The leaders have also agreed to continue to meet trilaterally in Brussels as frequently as necessary to address ongoing developments on the ground and standing agenda items of the Brussels meetings,” Leyts said in his statement, adding that Michel has invited the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, France and Germany to meet again on the margins of the next EPC summit in Granada, Spain in October 2023.
The May 14 meeting will be the first time Pashinyan and Aliyev have met in person since meeting in Munich in February.
Blinken said the Washington talks last week “made tangible progress on a durable peace agreement,” saying he believed “an agreement [is] within sight, within reach.”
Yerevan, however, announced that there were “lingering differences” between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which Pashinyan said were centered on Karabakh.
Blinken and other American diplomats urged Yerevan and Baku to take the matter of security conditions for the people of Karabakh seriously.
Moscow’s reaction to the Washington talks were tepid, at best, with the Kremlin and the Russian foreign ministry saying that any effort to settle the situation in the Caucasus was welcome. They, however, questioned the U.S. and the West’s motives for their recently pronounced interest in the matter.
The Kremlin said last week that any settlement in the region must be based on the provisions outlined in the November 9, 2020 agreement, which ended the military operations after the Artsakh War. Several of those provisions have been violated by Azerbaijan, which not only has breached Armenia’s sovereign border on several occasions, but also has—for almost five months—blockaded Artsakh through the closure and the eventual establishment of a checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor.
Pashinyan traveled to Moscow on Monday to take part in Victory Day events at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the Armenian government’s press office said. The Kremlin last week said that the two leaders “may discuss” the Armenia-Azerbaijan issue during the trip.
Hikmet Hajiyev, Aliyev’s foreign policy adviser, told the Financial Times that Azerbaijan feels quite comfortable with the Charles Michel mission “because the EU doesn’t have a hidden agenda.” He added that the EU process had developed “key concepts” for the negotiations and their structure.
Hajiyev said Baku was “flexible” about meeting in Moscow, Washington or Brussels, noting that the process should be more “inclusive” in order to yield results.
“Russia can effectively contribute to the peace-building process in the region. But it’s also true that Russia is very much preoccupied with the war in Ukraine,” said Hajiyev.
Earlier on Monday, Pashinyan’s communications chief told News.am that the Armenian government had no information about the May 14 meeting.