Last Friday (4 February), the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan, and Ilham Aliyev, held a remote meeting with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
According to the Azerbaijani readout, the parties stressed the importance of the meeting held in on the initiative of Michel last December, and discussed the continuation of the Brussels peace agenda. In this regard, the sides exchanged views on various aspects of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, including humanitarian issues, confidence-building measures, the opening of communications and the delimitation and demarcation of borders.Aliyev also drew specific attention to the issue of land-mines, noting that “36 Azerbaijani citizens had been killed and 165 injured in mine explosions” since the end of the 44-day war.
The Armenian statement on the meeting also notes that the sides discussed measures to reduce tensions on the border, with Pashinyan highlighting the need for a lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and an agreement on a peace treaty under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. Both sides have accused each other of destruction and desecration of cultural heritage, and to this end, it was agreed that a joint UNESCO mission would be sent to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
A joint statement from the French president and the president of the European Council stated that this latest meeting reaffirmed “their full commitment to supporting efforts aimed at reducing tension and building trust in the region”. It added that all parties had agreed this opportunity had offered a valuable platform to discuss a wide range of issues, and that the EU and France remained committed to working with its partners, including the OSCE, to build a prosperous, safe and stable South Caucasus.
Michel tweeted about the meeting, noting that progress had been made on the humanitarian and connectivity agenda, noting the “need for reconciliation and cultural heritage”.