EU Welcomes the Deal, Calls for Resumption of Talks
The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan announced a prisoner exchange deal whereby 32 Armenian soldiers detained by Azerbaijan will be released. In return Armenia will also release two Azerbaijani soldiers currently in custody in Armenia.
In a joint statement issued by the offices of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, it was announced that as a result of talks between the two offices “an agreement has been reached on taking tangible steps towards building confidence between two countries.”
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan share the view that there is a historical chance to achieve a long-awaited peace in the region. Two countries reconfirm their intention to normalize relations and to reach the peace treaty on the basis of respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
As a sign of goodwill, the deal stipulates that Armenia will support Azerbaijan’s bid to host the 2029 Climate Summit by withdrawing its own candidacy.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan do hope that the other countries within the Eastern European Group will also support Azerbaijan’s bid to host. As a sign of good gesture, the Republic of Azerbaijan supports the Armenian candidature for Eastern European Group COP Bureau membership,” said the statement.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue their discussions regarding the implementation of more confidence building measures, effective in the near future and call on the international community to support their efforts that will contribute to building mutual trust between two countries and will positively impact the entire South Caucasus region,” the statement concluded.
The latest prisoner deal followed U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien’s visit to Baku, Azatutyun.am reported. O’Brien discussed with Aliyev U.S. efforts to kick-start talks on the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty. In what may have been a related development, a U.S. special envoy for the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks, Louis Bono, met with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in Yerevan on Thursday.
European Council President Charles Michel welcomed the Yerevan-Baku joint statement.
“Delighted to welcome a major breakthrough in relations as they issue a joint statement. Welcome in particular release of detainees and unprecedented opening in political dialogue,” Michel said on X, formerly Twitter.
“Establishing and deepening bilateral dialogue between sides has been a key objective of the EU-led Brussels process: today’s progress is a key step. I now encourage the leaders to finalize the peace Armenia-Azerbaijan deal ASAP,” added Michel.