The video conference came about two months after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s two face-to-face meetings with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev which were separately hosted by Macron and Michel in Brussels.
“They took stock of progress achieved since the [December] meetings held in the sidelines of the Eastern Partnership Summit, in particular recent releases of detainees, ongoing joint efforts to search for missing persons, as well as the upcoming restoration of railways tracks,” Macron and Michel said in a joint statement on the video conference.
“The heads of State and Government agreed that this meeting offered a valuable opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues,” added the statement.
Pashinian’s office reported that the four leaders discussed efforts to reduce tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and open transport links between the two South Caucasus states as well as international organizations’ access to Karabakh.
“Prime Minister Pashinian stressed the need for a long-term settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the signing of a peace treaty under the aegis of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” it said.
Neither statement mentioned any concrete agreements reached by Aliyev and Pashinian.
The two leaders pledged to de-escalate border tensions and restore Armenian-Azerbaijani rail links at their December 14 trilateral meeting with Michel. But they failed to patch up their differences on the status of a highway that would also connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province.
Aliyev said ahead of the Brussels talks that people and cargo passing through that “Zangezur corridor” must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Pashinian rejected the demand.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said late on Thursday that Yerevan has presented Baku with new proposals regarding “the opening of the roads.” The ministry spokesman, Vahan Hunanian, did not disclose them.
“We have not received any response from the Azerbaijani side to these proposals yet,” Hunanian said in written comments. “Armenia is ready to start implementing these proposals as soon as possible.”
The comments came in response to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov’s claims that Yerevan is obstructing the launch of the cross-border transport links. Hunanian said the claims are “paradoxical” in light of what Pashinian stated earlier on Thursday.
Pashinian announced further progress towards the planned construction of the 45-kilometer Syunik railway. He said senior Armenian and Russian officials discussed “practical” details of the project on Wednesday.