The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, responded to questions about yesterday’s trilateral meeting with the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev.
He began by noting that this had been a “significant meeting”, which had enabled frank, open dialogue on the situation in the region. He said that “together we have demonstrated that direct talks are useful and needed, even on difficult topics”, stating that the first step to making any progress is the occasion to listen, understand different views, and clarify different arguments. He also re-iterated the EU’s commitment to playing a positive and useful role in bringing stability, as well as its readiness to support the humanitarian gestures which "are needed to strengthen confidence building measures on both sides".
Michel also highlighted that the EU is ready to support positive efforts by other actors, adding that the EU has "always supported the Minsk group” and commends all their efforts.
On the topic of the Eastern Partnership Summit, due to take place today, he stated that the EU intends to propose a huge financial package, which he hopes could be used as leverage to enhance cooperation among countries in the region.
He also stressed the importance of restoring connectivity and communication, pointing to the agreement on the restoration of railway lines as an indication of progress and a “common understanding of what is needed”. On the issue of highways, he noted that the meeting had enabled an identification of the questions which must be addressed going forward and the establishment of a “mutual understanding”. He noted that while this did not mean the parties had to agree on everything, it signified a “common political will” to make the efforts needed to address the challenges the region faces.
He said that the meeting would give the occasion in the near future for other direct contacts, which was “important to maximise the chance at cooperation”. The European council president also confirmed that he had left the two leaders alone for a bit, allowed them to speak directly.
Another statement by the European Council issued yesterday addressed the main talking points of the meeting.