Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed key issues during a tripartite meeting hosted by European Council (EC) President Charles Michel on Sunday.
The third such meeting between the two sides focused on several issues of mutual interest, namely border demarcation, transport communications, a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as socio-development. -economic in the two countries of the South Caucasus.
President Michel described the meeting as “productive” and leading to “tangible progress” in normalizing ties between the two nations.
“The first joint meeting of boundary commissions will take place at the interstate border in the coming days. It will address all issues related to the demarcation of the border and the best way to ensure a stable situation,” Michel said in a statement issued by the European Council press service on May 22.
EC president said Aliyev and Pashinyan also agreed to unblock transport links, including transit between western regions of Azerbaijan and its southwestern enclave of Nakhchivan, and between different parts of Armenia via Azerbaijan, as well as to allow international transport via their national communication infrastructure. .
The important part of Azerbaijan’s state border with Armenia, measuring 1,007 kilometers in length, remained out of the country’s control for almost 30 years after the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh (Garabagh) fell under the illegal Armenian occupation in the early 1990s. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a full-scale military aggression against Azerbaijan, marking the region’s longest and deadliest war. South Caucasus. The bloody war ended with a ceasefire in 1994, which saw Armenia forcibly occupy 20% of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. More than 30,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed, 3,890 have disappeared and a million more have been expelled from these lands as part of a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia.
The occupation also deepened the isolation of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic from the Azerbaijani mainland. Armenia has shut down almost all sorts of inbound and outbound communication links, including transport, humanitarian and energy to and from Nakhchivan, placing it in a blockade. So far, Azerbaijan has used the territories of Iran and Turkey to reach Nakhchivan.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between the two countries escalated after Armenian forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements in Azerbaijan. During counterattack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated more than 300 settlements, including the towns of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha, from an illegal Armenian occupation that lasted almost 30 years. The war ended with a tripartite declaration signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under this declaration, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani military’s post-war border protection works have faced backlash from Armenia since May 2021. Yerevan has accused Azerbaijani forces of allegedly “encroaching” on Armenian territory. The Armenian army carried out numerous provocations against the Azerbaijani army, leading to serious complications at the border.
In response to baseless accusations from Yerevan, Baku has publicly called for the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border. In February 2022, Baku submitted a proposal containing five basic principles to Armenia, which, among other things, focuses on the delimitation and demarcation of the state border between countries. On April 23, the Azerbaijani authorities announced that the composition of the national commission for the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and a delegation responsible for drafting the peace agreement between the two countries had been determined.
In the meantime, the connection between the Azerbaijani mainland and Nakhichevan should be restored in the Zangazur corridor. Before the first Karabakh war in 1991-1994, there was a railway connection between the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, and Nakhchivan. However, it was destroyed and looted by Armenians during the years of occupation of the Azerbaijani districts of Fuzuli, Jabrayil and Zangilan.
Azerbaijan has restored the Horadiz-Aghband railway that stretches to the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border in the Zangilan district as an integral part of the Zangazur corridor. The project is being implemented in three stages totaling 110.4 kilometers in length. The railway is expected to go live sometime in 2023.