Michel held a trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels for the second time in less than two months.
“The leaders agreed to advance discussions on the future peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Michel told reporters. “Teams led by the [Armenian and Azerbaijani] foreign ministers will take forward this process in the coming weeks.”
“In addition to this track, I also stressed to both leaders that it was necessary that the rights and security of the ethnic Armenian population in Karabakh be addressed,” he said.
Michel did not say whether Aliyev and Pashinian agreed on the agenda of the planned negotiations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani treaty. Pashinian’s office did not report any agreements to that effect in a statement on the Brussels summit.
In March, Baku presented Yerevan with five elements which it wants to be at the heart of the treaty. They include a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity.
The Armenian government said they should be complemented by other issues relating to the future of status of Karabakh and the security of its population. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said last Wednesday that Baku has not yet agreed to discuss them as well.
The government revealed its counterproposals after Armenia’s leading opposition groups launched on May 1 daily demonstrations in a bid to force Pashinian to resign. Opposition leaders claim that he has agreed to restore Azerbaijani control over Karabakh. They cite the prime minister’s statements made following his previous meeting with Aliyev held on April 6.
Michel announced following the latest summit that a newly formed Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on the border demarcation will hold its first meeting “in the coming days.” Also, he said, Aliyev and Pashinian made significant progress towards opening the border to commerce and cargo shipments.
“Notably they agreed on principles of border administration, security, land fees but also customs in the context of international transport,” he said without elaborating. “The deputy prime ministers [of Armenia and Azerbaijan] will take this work forward in the coming days.”
Pashinian’s office said in this regard that the two leaders reached understandings on “the further course of work on the opening of regional communications.” It too did not give any details.
It was thus not clear whether the two sides ironed out their differences on the status of an Armenian road and railway that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave. Aliyev has said that people and cargo passing through them must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Armenian leaders have until now rejected his demands for an exterritorial land corridor.
Armenian-Azerbaijani transport links are envisaged by a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 war in Karabakh. Shortly after the truce, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan set up a trilateral commission tasked with working out their practical modalities.
The commission has not met since December. Moscow moved to revive its activities last month after accusing the West of trying to hijack its efforts to make peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.