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EU Chief Hosts Another Armenian-Azeri Summit


Belgium - EU Council President Charles Michel meets the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels, July 15, 2023.
Belgium - EU Council President Charles Michel meets the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels, July 15, 2023.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels on Saturday for fresh talks hosted by the European Union’s top official, Charles Michel.

Speaking after the trilateral meeting, Michel gave no indications that Aliyev and Pashinian narrowed their differences on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty discussed by them. He said he urged them to “take further courageous steps to ensure decisive and irreversible progress on the normalization track.”

“Even though our meeting took place in the context of a worrying increase in tensions on the ground, I noted an important momentum in the political discussions and efforts,” Michel said in a statement to the press.

“The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders once again fully reconfirmed the respect for the other country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty based on the understanding that Armenia’s territory covers 29,800 square kilometers and Azerbaijan’s 86,600 square kilometers.”

“Real progress depends on the next steps that will need to be taken in the near future,” added the president of the European Council, the EU’s top decision-making body.

An Armenian government statement on the talks said the three leaders agreed to “intensify the work towards the settlement of the discussed issues,” which included not only the would-be treaty but also Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of the Lachin corridor, “the rights and security” of the Karabakh Armenians and planned transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

According to Aliyev’s office, the agenda of the meeting included Baku’s demands for “the withdrawal of Armenian army units from Azerbaijani territory” and the dissolution of Karabakh’s “illegal” armed forces. Armenia has repeatedly denied any military presence in Karabakh.

Pashinian said last week that the peace accord is not “yet ready for signing.” The Armenian Foreign Ministry reported earlier that Baku and Yerevan continue to disagree on practical modalities of delimiting the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and organizing a dialogue between Baku and Karabakh’s leadership.

Michel voiced support for such a dialogue, saying that Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population “needs reassurances first and foremost regarding the rights and security.” He signaled no further progress on this issue made in Brussels.

Turning to the Azerbaijani blockade and the resulting humanitarian crisis in Karabakh, Michel said he discussed with Aliyev and Pashinian “possible concrete steps to help bring the situation back to normal.” “I emphasized the need to open the Lachin road,” he said without reporting any understandings on this score.

Pashinian charged earlier this month that the seven-month blockage of Karabakh’s only land link with Armenia reflects Baku’s intention to commit “genocide” in the region. He made clear at the same time that he will not deviate from his “peace agenda” denounced by the Armenian opposition as well as Karabakh’s leadership. Opposition leaders claim that Baku was emboldened by his recent pledge to sign a peace deal upholding Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

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