Armenia, Azerbaijan hold EU-mediated talks

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


European Council President Charles Michel announced this week that leaders from Armenia and Azerbaijan, two nations who engaged in a brief war over disputed territory in 2020, had engaged in meaningful talks during an EU summit. 

As first reported by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the meeting lasted about four hours Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev discussed ways to ease tensions between the two nations following hostilities in 2020 that resulted in at least 6,500 deaths and a recent flareup of violence along the nations’ shared border.

“Significant meeting this evening with @azpresident and @NikolPashinyan in Brussels,” Michel tweeted. “Direct dialogue is needed to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The leaders met as part of the Eastern Partnership Summit, which resulted in a broader joint statement involving numerous nations from Europe and the former Soviet Union.

In a follow-up tweet, Michel wrote, “The EU and our Eastern partners are not just neighbours — we are true partners. In times of rising tensions, solidarity & cooperation are more vital than ever. Our #EasternPartnership is committed to reforms, strong recovery, and resilient societies.”

The Eastern Partnership is a group of six former Soviet-controlled nations – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – that are not members of the EU but have a working relationship with Europe for political and trade purposes.

Although the United States did not attend the meeting, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Armenian National Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan Wednesday.

“Mr. Sullivan conveyed the commitment of the United States to peace, security, and prosperity in Armenia and the South Caucasus region,” Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement. “He expressed concern over ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan and emphasized that military movements near un-demarcated borders are irresponsible and provocative.  He welcomed the ongoing communication between the two sides and emphasized the U.S. commitment to continue supporting confidence-building measures and regional reconciliation both bilaterally and as a Minsk Group Co-Chair.”

The Minsk Group – co-chaired by the U.S., Russia, and France – was created in 1992 with the hope of brokering a peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan when the nations were engaged in what became a six-year war over land in Azerbaijan.

The 2020 war, which was fought over the same land as the earlier war, ended after Russia intervened and orchestrated a ceasefire. As part of the ceasefire, Armenia was forced to relinquish control of territory it had held for decades.

The EU-organized meeting came a little more than two weeks after Russia had scheduled its own trilateral talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan.