Michel and Macron met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Prague on the margins of a pan-European summit. The meeting began on Thursday evening and concluded in the early hours of the following morning.
Macron was the first to announce the impending start of the EU’s “civilian mission” along the border between the two South Caucasus states. He wrote on social media that it is meant to “build confidence” and facilitate the work of an Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on the demarcation of the long frontier.
The EU and the Armenian government confirmed this in virtually identical statements released shortly afterwards.
“There was an agreement by Armenia to facilitate a civilian EU mission alongside the border with Azerbaijan,” read the EU statement. “Azerbaijan agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned. The mission will start in October for a maximum of two months.”
The statement also said: “Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration [by former Soviet republics] through which both recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They confirmed it would be a basis for the work of the border delimitation commissions and that the next meeting of the border commissions would take place in Brussels by the end of October.”
The tensions along the border escalated last month into large-scale fighting that left at least 280 soldiers from both sides dead. Azerbaijani forces attacked and seized some of the Armenian border posts in what Yerevan denounced as an attempt to force it to make concessions demanded by Baku.
Macron and the EU statement made no explicit mention of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty which was another focus of the Prague meeting.
Speaking after the first part of the meeting late on Thursday, Aliyev said Baku and Yerevan are inching close to working out such a treaty. It could be signed before the end of this year, he told Azerbaijani journalists.
Pashinian said earlier this week that he is pressing ahead with a peace deal that will commit Armenia and Azerbaijan to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity and make no reference to Nagorno-Karabakh. His domestic critics say he would thus recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.