Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s special representative to the South Caucasus, and French envoy Isabelle Dumont met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Thursday before proceeding to Yerevan for talks with Armenian leaders held on Friday.
Klaar described the meetings as “excellent.” “The EU is firmly committed to peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus,” he tweeted at the end of what he called a “successful” visit.
In a separate tweet, the EU envoy said he and Dumont wanted to “follow up on December meetings in Brussels” held by Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
The two leaders met in the Belgian capital twice in the space of two days on the sidelines of the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit with five former Soviet republics. The talks were hosted by European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Michel said on December 15 that Aliyev and Pashinian agreed to take “further tangible steps” that would create a “conducive atmosphere” for planned negotiations on the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The EU is ready to provide “technical assistance” to the demarcation process, he said.
Aliyev and Pashinian pledged to set up a joint commission on border delimitation and demarcation when they held a trilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on November 26.
Armenian officials said earlier this week that the commission should start its work after a set of confidence-building measures, notably the withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani troops from their border posts. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov rejected the Armenian “preconditions,” saying that Baku stands for an immediate and unconditional start of the demarcation process.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry insisted on Thursday that the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders agreed on the mutual troop withdrawal during the Brussels talks.
A spokesman for Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, called for a “distancing of forces and confidence-building measures” when he reacted to fresh deadly fighting that erupted on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border last week.
Official Armenian and Azerbaijani sources gave few details of the visiting European envoys’ talks in the two capitals. Pashinian’s press office said the prime minister discussed with them “steps aimed at de-escalating the situation and ensuring stability on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.”