Leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan speak of peace progress while arguing in front of Putin By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev speaks during a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

MOSCOW (Reuters) -The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Thursday both spoke of progress towards ending their decades-old conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, even as they argued openly in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan, has been a source of conflict between the two Caucasus neighbours since the years leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and between ethnic Armenians and Turkic Azeris for well over a century.

In 2020, Azerbaijan seized control of areas that had been controlled by ethnic Armenians in and around the mountain enclave, and since then it has periodically restricted access to the only access road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, on which the enclave relies for financial and military support.

At a meeting in Moscow, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of causing a humanitarian crisis by blocking the only land route from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

He called it a “direct violation” of a 2020 ceasefire that ended the six-week war between the two countries, and called for an international mission to be sent to evaluate the situation.

Azeri activists in mid-December began obstructing the road known as the Lachin corridor, which Pashinyan noted should be under the control of Russian peacekeepers, and Baku last month erected a checkpoint along it.

Azerbaijan says it took that step because Armenia was using the route to send weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh, something Armenia denies.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev responded to Pashinyan: “Azerbaijan did not block any corridor… There is no need to use this platform for unfounded accusations.”

The two leaders continued arguing for several minutes in Russian before Putin – who is mounting a new effort to broker a deal – closed off the conversation, which took place at an economic meeting of former Soviet republics in Moscow.

Despite their testy exchange, both Pashinyan and Aliyev said there had been progress lately towards a settlement based on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity.

Putin was later due to host three-way talks with Aliyev and Pashinyan, where he said they would have the chance “to talk about everything calmly in a businesslike manner”.

Russia has traditionally been the main power broker between the two countries on the southwest edge of the former Soviet Union which have fought two major wars in the three decades since the collapse of the former superpower.

Distracted by the war in Ukraine, Russia faces a challenge to maintain that role as the United States and European Union have mounted their own efforts to bring the sides together.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted by the RIA news agency earlier on Thursday as saying the West was trying to interfere in the conflict and discredit Russian peacekeeping policy.

Outstanding issues between the two sides include the rights and security of some 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles