Armenia, Azerbaijan Pledge Progress After Putin Hosts Talks On Borders, Transit, Trade

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have expressed a willingness toward progress on border delimitation and improving economic and transport links after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted trilateral talks in Sochi.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, and Putin began their three-hour meeting on November 26 by saying that “a lot has been done” since last year’s Moscow-brokered cease-fire ended 44 days of intense fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and nearby districts.

A deadly flareup in the past week has rekindled fears of a return to large-scale violence.

In a statement after their talks, all three pledged “to take steps to increase the level of stability and security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and to work towards the creation of a bilateral commission on the delimitation of the state border between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia with its subsequent demarcation with the consultative assistance of the Russian Federation at the request of the parties.”

They also vowed “to intensify joint efforts aimed at the earliest possible resolution” of commitments from the past year on resuming economic and transport links in their Caucasus region.

Moscow said it would lend “all necessary assistance” toward “normalizing relations” between the longtime foes and “creating an atmosphere of trust” between their peoples and “building good-neighborly relations in the region.”

Putin said that Russian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani deputy prime ministers would meet in Moscow next week “to summarize some results and announce the decisions that we have coordinated today.”

Aliyev expressed hope that the Sochi talks could lead a “more secure and predictable” situation in the Caucasus.

“Today we had a very detailed and I would say frank conversation on issues of border delimitation and demarcation and unblocking of transport arteries,” Aliyev said.

“We openly discussed our plans, we openly discussed issues that cause concern with both sides. The most important thing is that the decisions that we’ve made in the issue of settling disputes, differences will contribute to a more secure and predictable situation in the South Caucasus.”

Aliyev said that “in Azerbaijan we feel like turning over the page of many years of confrontation with Armenia and begin a stage of normal interaction,” adding, “I think our meeting will lead to good results that won’t make us wait for too long.”

Pashinian described the meeting as “very positive.”

“This wasn’t a meeting to hide problems,” the Armenian prime minister said. “I think that we can expect concrete results if we manage to build on the dynamics of our talks.”

The intense conflict last year ended with Azerbaijan in control of major swaths of territory in and around the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh that had been under ethnic Armenian control since a bloody war in the 1990s.