Armenia and Azerbaijan reaffirmed on Monday their stated intention to strengthen the ceasefire regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and take other take confidence-building measures during fresh peace talks mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov hosted his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Elmar Mammadyarov, more two weeks after an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit held in Vienna. The three ministers were joined in Moscow by the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
“The Ministers emphasized their interest in further stabilization of the situation in the conflict zone, in particular during agricultural activities,” read a joint statement released by the participants of the talks. “They also agreed to take measures, on a mutual basis, to allow families to have access to their relatives held in custody in the respective detention centers of the parties.”
“The Ministers expressed their willingness to start concrete work on establishing contacts between people, including through mutual visits of media representatives,” added the statement.
It described the Moscow talks as a “follow-up to the agreements” that were reached by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev at their March 29 summit in Vienna.
Both Aliyev and Pashinian gave a largely positive assessment of what was their fourth meeting in six months. There has been a significant decrease in ceasefire violations around Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border since their first face-to-face contact in September.
Lavrov, Mnatsakanian and Mammadyarov said they also “exchanged detailed views on key aspects of the settlement process.” It was not clear whether the conflicting parties narrowed their differences on a compromise peace formula that has been advanced by the United States, Russia and France for more than a decade. Their statement said only that they will “continue their contacts in the near future.”