Pashinyan and Aliyev meet in Brussels
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pledged to de-escalate tensions and restore railway lines during a summit in Brussels hosted by European Council President Charles Michel on December 14, informed the Armenian Weekly.
According to a statement released by Michel after the meeting, Pashinyan and Aliyev agreed to take “further tangible steps” to “reduce tensions on the ground to ensure a conducive environment” for negotiations on delimitation and demarcation of the state border. The EU committed to providing an expert consultative group to provide technical assistance in the delimitation and demarcation process.
Following the meeting, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev criticised Armenia. “So far, there are no positive signs”, he said, referring to the possible normalisation of relations. “We must learn to live side by side, gradually preparing the ground for the normalisation of relations, including contacts between people”. “We won the war, we are the winner, this reality must be taken into account”, Aliyev said.
He also reiterated his previous claims that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved. “There is no going back to discussing the status of Karabakh or anything like that”, he said.
The leaders agreed to “proceed with the restoration of railway lines, with appropriate arrangements for border customs and controls, based on the principle of reciprocity.” According to Pashinyan, the railways will operate “within the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries,” and Armenia will have railway access to Iran and Russia.
As the OC Media reminds, the issue of reopening transport links, especially between mainland Azerbaijan and the enclave of Nakhchivan, dubbed the “Zangezur corridor” by Azerbaijani authorities, has continued to be a point of contention.
While the agreement does not specify any status given to such transport links, the Azerbaijani president has repeatedly demanded a “corridor” that would be under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction.
Before the meeting, in a briefing with the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the Azerbaijani president suggested that the legal aspect of the “Zangezur corridor” should be “fully similar to the regime of the Lachin corridor”. The Lachin corridor connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and, since the war, has been under the control of Russian peacekeepers.
“Today, there are no customs in the Lachin corridor. Therefore, there should be no customs in the Zangezur corridor. If Armenia insists on using customs facilities to control cargo and people, then we will insist on the same in the Lachin corridor. This is logical”, Aliyev said as cited by the OC Media.
One day later, both leaders met also with French President Emmanuel Macron. The meeting was not planned, or at least was not announced in advance.
No details have been reported on the exact topics that the Armenian Prime Minister and the President of Azerbaijan have discussed with the mediation of Emmanuel Macron. It is only known that the meeting took place after the end of the EU – Eastern Partnership summit, which was also attended by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan.