The core team of the Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani Liaison Group on confidence-building measures in support of lasting peace in the South Caucasus (JOLIG) met in Tbilisi on Friday 12 May 2023 to discuss ongoing regional processes and plan its work for the rest of the year.
JOLIG consists of experts and practitioners from Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a process of dialogue and confidence-building in support of lasting peace in the region. Present for the meeting in Tbilisi were on the Armenian side, Dr Benyamin Poghosyan, Mr Stepan Grigoryan and Mr Johnny Melikyan, and on the Azerbaijani side, Mr Ahmad Alili, Dr Anar Veliyev and Mr Ramazan Samadov.
The Group reviewed the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and the process to normalise them. It welcomed the resumption of face to face negotiations between the two countries held at Foreign Minister level in Washington DC in the first week of May and hoped that the process will continue and be brought to a successful conclusion. It looked forward to the next meeting of the leaders of the two countries in Brussels on 14 May and subsequently, and the planned meetings in Chisinau in June and in Granada in October, and also noted that a meeting of the foreign ministers was also planned to be held in Moscow later this month. The Group noted that this intensive diplomatic activity is necessary and instrumental for the early and successful completion of the negotiations. At this very challenging time for European peace and security, resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine, the group expressed the hope for a new dawn of peace for the people of the region.
The Group reminded of the report “The South Caucasus from war to peace: 30 measures between now and 2030” which it published in April 2022 and urged the sides and all interested parties to take up the ideas and proposals in the report and take them forward as part of the efforts to consolidate the peace process and bringing it to a successful end. The group reminded that there remains a very serious lack of trust at all levels in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and that this is a serious obstacle to the negotiation process.
The Group noted with regret that incidents involving violence continue on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and in and around Karabakh/Nagorno-Karabakh. It calls on all sides to make every effort to reduce the number of incidents, and to investigate incidents when they occur. It should be clear to one and all that these incidents are a serious hindrance to peace talks and need to be avoided at all cost. It regrets the loss of lives and casualties on all sides in these incidents, and in other accidents involving landmines and unexploded ordnance of war. It adds its voice in support of a massive effort to rid the South Caucasus of all landmines by 2030. The group calls on all sides to prioritise humanitarian issues and to exert all efforts to alleviate humanitarian hardship.
The core group welcomed the holding of the 1st South Caucasus Youth Peace Summer School and Regional Dialogue Forum” to be held in Kachreti Georgia in August 2023. It promised to put every effort into the holding of this activity and to ensure its success. It thanked the Government of Norway and the European Union for their support for this important event.
The meeting of the JOLIG core team in Tbilisi on 12 May was facilitated by LINKS Europe and organised with the support of the European Union. A plenary meeting of JOLIG will be held in The Hague in July.