Azerbaijan, Armenia seek peace deal in talks in Russia

Azerbaijan, Armenia seek peace deal in talks in Russia

As they meet in Moscow on Thursday, Azerbaijan and Armenia are eager to settle the decadeslong dispute over the Karabakh region, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reiterated his announcement this week that his country would recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan and would open all transport links.

“I think there is a possibility of a peace agreement – especially because Armenia has officially recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in response.

Aliyev and Pashinian were to meet in the evening, mediated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to hammer out the peace agreement possibly. However, it was initially unclear whether this would succeed.

“I want to confirm that Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity,” Pashinian said. “And on this basis, we can say that we are quite well on settling our relations.”

Aliyev confirmed that there was a chance of normalizing the relationship. Putin had said the settlement was possible because it was in the interest of the economic development of both sides.

Aliyev on Thursday denied that Baku has any territorial claims against Yerevan.

“I want to say that we have no such (territorial) claims (on Armenia) … As for the word ‘corridor,’ which I used, I used (it) in the same way about the North-South corridor, in the same way, this word is used about the East-West corridor, The word ‘corridor’ is in no way an encroachment on someone’s territory. It is an international term,” Aliyev said.

Pashinian claimed following opening remarks at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council that Aliyev’s statements on Baku’s initiation of the creation of the Zangezur corridor were “an expression” used to put forward territorial claims against Armenia.

The Zangezur region was part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of its direct overland route to Nakhchivan.

Following a 44-day conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in September 2020, Baku liberated numerous cities, villages and settlements in Karabakh from Armenian occupation, ending in a Moscow-brokered truce.

Since then, Azerbaijan has focused on planned connections, including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.

Aliyev also denied Pashinian’s claims that Azerbaijan is blocking the flow of transport through the Lachin road, the only route connecting Armenia to the Karabakh region, saying the road is open and that it is not right to “use this meeting for baseless accusations.”

“A border checkpoint has been established on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. There is a checkpoint of Russian forces 20 meters away from this border checkpoint. Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin living in Karabakh can go to Armenia from here without any hindrance,” Aliyev said.

Last month, Azerbaijan announced that it established a border checkpoint at the starting point of the Lachin-Khankendi road, citing the use of the road by Armenia to transport military arms and equipment to the region illegally.