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Pashinyan and Aliyev make ‘clear progress’ in Brussels talks

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, President of the Council of the European Union Charles Michel, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels on Sunday. Photo via Prime Minister of Armenia's office

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels on Sunday where they discussed border delimitation, reopening transport and economic links, and the release of two Azerbaijani soldiers captured in Armenia. 

The meeting was mediated by EU Council President Charles Michel, who held one-on-one meetings with both leaders prior to their discussion. 

Michel stated after the event that the conversation was ‘frank, open, and result-oriented’. 

The meeting came not long after four days of negotiations between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Washington. Michel described those talks as ‘positive’, and underscored the importance of maintaining momentum and taking ‘decisive steps’ towards the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement. 

Last week also saw exchange of fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, injuring five people and killing one. 

[Read more: Armenia and Azerbaijan exchange fire ahead of key talks in Brussels]

The discussion reportedly addressed questions of border delimitation, with the two countries’ leaders agreeing to resume bilateral meetings to address the issue, and confirming their commitment to the borders established in the 1991 Almaty Declaration. 

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Michel added that ‘clear progress’ had been made regarding reopening transport and economic links between the two countries, and that the two sides were now approaching agreement regarding reopening a railway connection to and via Nakhchivan.

The leaders reportedly also discussed the release of prisoners in coming weeks, particularly the two Azerbaijani soldiers captured in Armenian territory in April and ‘stepping up’ work on demining in the region. 

Michel added that he had encouraged Azerbaijan to work towards guaranteeing Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians’ rights and security, and had raised the need for a ‘transparent and constructive dialogue’ between them and Baku. 

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry described the meeting as ‘useful and result-oriented’, while noting that the Brussels meetings had not taken place for almost nine months due to ‘attempts to interfere and set conditions’. 

Armenia’s Prime Minister’s Office noted the same points of discussion described by Michel, while offering no assessment of the meeting. 

Both Yerevan and the EU Council President also said the leaders would meet again on the margins of the European Political Community Summit in Chișinău, Moldova, on 1 June, this time alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Baku has previously rejected France’s involvement in the negotiations, accusing the country of supporting Armenia. 

Michel stated that the leaders had agreed to hold the Brussels meetings ‘as often as necessary’, with another meeting scheduled to take place in July, and that he would invite Pashinyan and Aliyev to meet at another European Political Community summit in Granada in October.