YEREVAN: Armenia and Azerbaijan today revived talks over their shared border, Armenian officials said, as normalisation negotiations between the arch-foes stalled after Baku reclaimed the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenian separatists.
Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a decades-long conflict for control of Azerbaijan’s formerly Armenian-populated Karabakh region, which Baku recaptured in a lightning offensive in September.
Internationally-mediated peace talks between the Caucasus neighbours have failed to produce a breakthrough – but both countries’ leaders have said that a comprehensive peace deal could be signed by the end of the year.
The peace process stalled, however, after Azerbaijan recently refused meetings under the mediation of the European Union and the US, accusing them of favouring Armenia.
Today, Armenian and Azerbaijani “commissions on border delimitation, chaired by Armenia’s vice-prime minister Mher Grigoryan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Shahin Mustafayev, began a fifth round of talks,” Grigoryan’s spokesman Ani Babayan told AFP.
The meeting “is taking place at the Ijevan-Gazakh sector of the state border,” she added.
Last week, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said Baku “stands prepared for direct negotiations with Armenia on a bilateral basis to finalise the peace agreement as soon as possible.”
In a one-day military operation on Sept 19, Azerbaijan recaptured Karabakh from Armenian separatists who had controlled the mountainous enclave for three decades.
Almost the entire Armenian population of the region – more than 100,000 people – fled Karabakh over the following days for Armenia, sparking a refugee crisis.
Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev have met on several occasions for talks under the mediation of the European Union.
But last month, Aliyev refused to attend negotiations with Pashinyan in Spain, citing French bias.
Washington had also organised several meetings between the countries’ foreign ministries.
Azerbaijan however refused further talks, due to what it says is Washington’s “biased” position.
The traditional regional power broker Russia – bogged down in its Ukraine war – has seen its influence wane in the Caucasus.