Putin reveals steps to fix Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to properly demarcate their border, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, following talks with the leaders of both countries, aimed at bringing the decades-long conflict to an end.
Armenia’s PM Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev were hosted by Putin in the Black Sea city of Sochi. Ahead of the trilateral talks, the Russian leader held a separate session with Aliev, and later spoke tete-a-tete with Pashinyan after the three-way meeting.
The discussions proved to be very “constructive”, Russia’s president said after the closed-doors encounter with the two bitter rivals, revealing that they had managed to find common ground on multiple issues, including the establishment of a proper border.
“We have agreed on a number of issues that I consider to be key,” Putin stated. “The first of them is the creation of mechanisms (we agreed to do this by the end of this year) for the demarcation and delimitation of the border between the two countries. [We] hope this happens as soon as possible. There are no obstacles to the creation of these mechanisms.”
The parties have also “made a significant progress” on humanitarian issues, Putin said, without providing any further detail. Development of economic ties, and “unblocking transport corridors,” including railway and roads links in the region, have been discussed “in great detail” as well.
The trilateral talks come shortly after deadly border skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries, earlier this month. The clashes resulted in deaths and the loss of military hardware on both sides, prompting fears that the situation may spin into another full-blown war.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict throughout their modern independent history. The main source of rivalry between the pair is the Nagorno-Karabakh – a region in the eastern part of Azerbaijan, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians and bordering Yerevan's internationally recognised territory.
Azerbaijan lost control of the area following a bloody war in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and it has repeatedly been the scene of armed escalations since then. The latest major flare-up took plac last year, resulting in Baku regaining control over some of the disputed land.
The fighting ended in an uneasy truce mediated by Moscow, with Russian peacekeepers deployed to observe the agreement. The outcome was widely perceived by the Armenians as a humiliating defeat, prompting mass-protests against Pashinyan’s government.
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