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Armenia, Azerbeijan to hold peace talks

April 7, 2022

EU leaders brokered the agreement, which will see a joint border commission established. The two countries' leaders met for the third time in six months as tensions continue to flare in the region.

Left to right: Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, European Commission chief Charles Michel and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev walk down a hall at the Brussels summit
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but home to an ethnic Armenian minorityImage: Dursun Aydemir/AA/picture alliance

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to kick-start peace talks over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, following a Wednesday meeting of the two countries' heads of state.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia said in a statement that he and his Azeri counterpart had agreed to set up a bilateral border commission by the end of April.

The two leaders "instructed their foreign ministers to begin preparations for peace talks," Pashinyan's statement read.

No statement from Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev was immediately available.

The summit came more than two years after renewed heavy fighting over the region in 2020, which saw 250,000 people displaced.

Armenian soldiers sit atop a van as the car passes the border between Karabakh and Armenia
Azerbaijan took back Nagorno-Karabakh after heavy fighting in 2020Image: AP/picture alliance

What's the history of the conflict?

Since the 1990s, tensions have simmered between the two breakaway ex-Soviet republics over Nagorno-Karabakh — the border territory sandwiched between the two nations.

In a 1991 war, Yerevan forces occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, which is home to ethnic Armenians but was internationally recognized as belonging to Baku.

The fighting lasted four years, ending only after Russia's intervention. Some 30,000 people were killed.

Although a peace agreement was signed in 2008 to solidify a resolution, there have been flashes of violence in the region over the years.

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In 2020, those tensions boiled over, resulting in heavy fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azeri forces deployed ballistic missiles, cluster munitions and drones to take back the region.

In November, the conflict officially ended following a peace deal that saw Armenia relinquish control of the region and Russian peacekeepers step in.

A map showing control of Nagorno-Karabakh after the 2020 war

Sustainable peace?

Wednesday's meeting was hosted by the European Council in Brussels.

It's the third in six months between the country's leaders.

With proposed talks, there's renewed hope that this agreement can be sustained despite clashes recorded as recently as November.

European Council President Charles Michel, who engineered the discussions, said he was "confident" that the talks are going in the right direction for the two parties, but also "it doesn't mean that everything is solved, of course."

sl/sms (Reuters, AFP)