Armenia, Azerbaijan take small step towards peace deal

Aliyev and Pashinyan announce the creation of a border commission after their trilateral talks in Brussels.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have announced that they had set up a border commission, a potential step towards ending a dispute over the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh that has festered for 30 years.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Monday posted a decree on his website creating a border delimitation commission under Vice-Premier Shahin Mustafayev.

Armenia’s commission on border delimitation and security will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan, according to the Telegram channel of the Russian Sputnik agency.

The leaders of both countries had agreed in Brussels on Sunday to work on a peace plan, despite a wave of protests in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, fuelled by opposition claims that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is giving too much away.

A simmering dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous territory inside Azerbaijan controlled since the 1990s by ethnic Armenians supported by Yerevan, flared up in 2020 into a six-week war in which Azerbaijan’s troops regained swaths of territory.

Future peace treaty

European Council President Charles Michel said after a meeting with Pashinyan and Aliyev that they had agreed to advance discussions on a future peace treaty, with respective commissions on delimiting their inter-state border to meet on the border itself within days.

Pashinyan has faced a series of protests in Yerevan in recent weeks since he said the international community wanted Armenia to “lower the bar” on ethnic Armenian claims to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Michel said on Sunday that he would hold another trilateral meeting with Aliyev and Pashinyan by July or August.

According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, Aliyev agreed with Pashinyan on the opening of the Zangezur corridor, allowing Azerbaijan to access its Nakhchivan exclave.

Aliyev aims to construct motorways and rail lines through the corridor, linking Turkey with Russia through Azerbaijan.

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