Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to more meetings after ‘productive’ Brussels talks

By Mark Dovich

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev agreed to a number of further meetings following “open and productive” talks in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said in a press release Wednesday.

Pashinyan and Aliyev will themselves meet again in Brussels “by the end of November,” while their deputy prime ministers, who chair a joint border delimitation commission, will also meet in the unofficial European capital “in November,” Michel said.

In addition, the two countries’ foreign ministers will meet “within one month to work on draft texts” of a peace treaty, Michel said, without specifying where those talks will take place.

In his press release, Michel noted that Wednesday’s summit “reviewed the entire set of issues on our agenda,” including “a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, detainees and the fate of missing persons.”

Pashinyan, Aliyev, and Michel also held talks on ongoing, but so far largely fruitless, efforts to delimit the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and to unblock transport connections between the two countries.

Wednesday’s summit was Pashinyan and Aliyev’s third face-to-face meeting so far this year, with Brussels playing host for two similar rounds of talks in May and April.

Just one day before, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s deputy prime ministers met in Moscow to “exchange detailed thoughts” on border delimitation efforts.

Several weeks earlier, the two countries’ foreign ministers held face-to-face talks on “a wide range of issues” in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.

The European Union has sought a greater mediating role between Armenia and Azerbaijan in recent months, amid apparent paralysis at the Minsk Group, a body that has led efforts to mediate a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict for many years, largely without result.

Washington has welcomed Brussels’ involvement, while Moscow has repeatedly said it amounts to interference. At a press briefing Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the EU of “attempting to shamelessly appropriate the laurels of mediation” on the Karabakh issue.