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Azerbaijan, Armenia Take Next Step Toward Peace Agreement, Recognizing Each Other’s Territorial Integrity

By Nigar Bayramli October 7, 2022

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President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed peace in two meetings attended also by the European Council President Charles Michel and President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prague, Czech Republic, October 6, 2022 / President.Az

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have discussed peace in two meetings attended also by the European Council President Charles Michel and France's President Emmanuel Macron.

The 5-hour-long meetings took place as part of the European Political Community summit in Prague and focused solely on revitalizing peace negotiations between the two countries, which had been locked in a decades-long conflict.

According to a statement posted on the official website of the French presidential office, following the quadrilateral meeting in Prague on Thursday, Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration through which both recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The parties confirmed that this would be a basis for the work of the border delimitation commissions, which are expected to hold the next meeting in Brussels by late October.

President Aliyev, who met journalists after the first meeting, suggested that it would be of tremendous importance in reaching a peace agreement.

“The peace process has already been kick-started … I think that the Prague meetings – we had an hour-and-a-half meeting with Charles Michel this morning, addressed a number of issues, this current meeting and the meeting that will be held in the evening – pursue the same goal of a peace treaty being signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan soon,” President Aliyev said.

He also recalled meetings between the foreign ministers of the two countries, adding that “these meetings should not be interrupted.”

“Although the first meeting of the foreign ministers did not produce specific results, I think it has been a positive step. I think that if a decision is made soon, the working groups of the two countries will start dealing with the text of the peace agreement and we can reach an agreement by the end of the year,” the Azerbaijani president said, adding that neither Armenia and nor the European Union has questions about five principles submitted by Azerbaijan for peace talks.

Azerbaijan submitted a proposal containing basic principles for the establishment of mutual relations with Armenia through mediators in March 2022. They include mutual recognition of territorial integrity, mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims against each other; obligation to refrain in their inter-state relations from undermining the security of each other; delimitation and demarcation of the state border, and unblocking of the transportation and other communications.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in the armed conflict since the early 1990s when Armenia launched a military offensive against Azerbaijan. The bloody war ended with a ceasefire in 1994, which saw Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. As a result, Azerbaijan lost control over the significant part of the 1,007-kilometer-long border with Armenia. However, in 2020, Azerbaijan liberated its lands from Armenia’s occupation, which paved the way for all-new geopolitical realities in the region, including an expected peace agreement with Armenia and delimitation of borders.

Meanwhile, based on the outcomes of the Prague meeting, Armenia agreed to facilitate a civilian European Union mission alongside the border with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned. The mission will start in October for a maximum of two months with the aim to build confidence and, through its reports, contribute to the border commissions.

The problem with the Armenian armed forces still present in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region was also highlighted by President Aliyev in Prague. According to him, their presence in the region hinders the peace process to gear up.

“The Armenian armed forces are yet to withdraw from our lands. We demand that. Some of them have indeed been removed, but they are still present in our lands, and I hope this will also stop. Because the entire international community clearly understands one thing now: Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” he said.

The president also reiterated that the ethnic Armenians living in the Karabakh region are the citizens of Azerbaijan. President Aliyev said their fate, and their future life is the internal matter of Azerbaijan and not subject to discussions with any country.

“This is our internal matter, and Armenians will enjoy the same rights as citizens of Azerbaijan. In any case, they can rest assured that their lives integrated into Azerbaijani society will be much better than their present life,” he added.