Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to start border delimitation and demarcation process in a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan mediated by European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on Wednesday.
The two sides agreed that their respective foreign ministers would work on the preparation of a future peace treaty that would address “all necessary issues,” Michel said in a statement following the meeting.
A Joint Border Commission empowered by Azerbaijan and Armenia is expected to convene by the end of April. The mandate of the Commission is to delimit the bilateral border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and ensure a stable security situation along, and in the vicinity of, the borderline.
The significant part of the state border of Azerbaijan with Armenia, measuring 1,007 kilometers in length, remained out of the country’s control for nearly 30 years after Azerbaijan's Karabakh (Garabagh) region fell under the illegal Armenian occupation in the early 1990s. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched full-blown military aggression against Azerbaijan, marking the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The bloody war ended with a ceasefire in 1994, which saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 3,890 went missing, and one million others were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia.
The situation in occupied Azerbaijani lands remained tense, sometimes escalating into short but bloody clashes, including the Four-Day War in April 2016, when Azerbaijani forces cleared 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of territory from Armenian occupiers.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between the two countries intensified after Armenian forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly a 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
The restoration of Azerbaijan’s control over a large portion of its 1,007-kilometer border with Armenia as a result of the war unearthed new realities on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border. Post-war border protection works of the Azerbaijani army faced hostile backlash from the Armenian side since May 2021. Yerevan blamed Azerbaijani forces for the so-called “encroaching” on Armenia’s sovereign territory. Armenia's military conducted numerous provocations against the Azerbaijani army, resulting in serious complications on the frontier.
In response to Yerevan’s groundless accusations, Baku has been publicly calling for the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border.
The first official agreement on border delimitation and demarcation process between the two countries was reached in the Russian city of Sochi in November 2021. A bilateral commission for dealing with border delimitation issues should be established, according to the document.
In March 2022, Azerbaijan submitted a proposal to Armenia containing basic principles for normalizing bilateral relations after decades of stalemate. The document once again reiterated the importance of mutual recognition of territorial integrities and the inviolability of internationally-recognized borders.