Monday, February 26, 2024

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree not to use force to settle Karabakh dispute

Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed not to use force to settle their disputes over the Nagorno-Karabkh region. It comes following a tripartite meeting hosted by Russia in the coastal city of Sochi.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the agreement on Monday following talks, which was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We agreed to refrain from the use of force or threatening force, to discuss and resolve all problematic questions solely on the basis of mutual recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported, citing a joint statement.

The agreement came against the backdrop of a bubbling and periodically deadly dispute between the two ex-Soviet republics over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.

Last month, simmering tensions between the estranged neighbors caused a fresh escalation over the region, leaving nearly 286 people dead on both sides.

The clashes took place despite agreements in both 2020 and 2021 to find a peaceful solution and ended with a US-brokered ceasefire, after earlier failed attempts to negotiate a truce.

This was the most recent conflict between the countries since more than 6,500 were killed during a six-week war in autumn 2020. The war ended with a Russian-brokered deal that saw Yerevan cede swathes of territory that it had been controlling for several decades.

Earlier this month the two sides agreed a civilian European Union mission should head to the border to assess the situation.

Moscow, which has a defense pact with Armenia and a military base there, deployed thousands of peacekeepers to the region after the 2020 warfare.

The two countries’ foreign ministers held their first talks following the deadly war in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi in mid-July.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov “discussed a wide range of issues related to normalizing relations between the two countries,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, for its part, noted Bayramov demanded “the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the territory of Azerbaijan,” referring to the parts of Karabakh still under Armenian separatists’ control.

Following the meeting, Putin stated trilateral talks among the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were useful, but that no deal had been struck in their bid to kick-start peace negotiations between the two neighbors.

“Today we agreed upon a joint statement. Honestly. We didn’t manage to agree on everything. We had to remove some things from the text, which was prepared by specialists in advance. Nevertheless, I agree with the general assessment that the meeting was useful and it prepares the grounds for future steps to be taken towards the solution of the conflict in general,” the Russian president continued.

He added that Armenia and Azerbaijan will continue their efforts to solve the conflict.

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