Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are set to meet in Brussels next week to lay the groundwork for peace talks to end the decades-long conflict over Karabakh.
Armenia’s prime minister has voiced readiness to work for a peace deal with its neighbour Azerbaijan ahead of a meeting in the EU capital Brussels with the Azerbaijani president.
“I once again express the readiness of the Republic of Armenia to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan,” said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan following a Cabinet meeting, local news agency Armenpress reported on Thursday.
“Armenia is ready to immediately launch peace talks,” he added.
“I hope to discuss and agree at that meeting with the president of Azerbaijan (Ilham Aliyev) all issues relating to the launch of peace talks,” he said.
The leaders of the two Caucasus nations are set to meet next Wednesday in Brussels with Charles Michel, head of the European Commission.
Decades of tension
Relations between the former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.
Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
New clashes erupted on September 27, 2020, and during the six-week war, Azerbaijan retook several cities and 300 settlements and villages.
The conflict ended in November 2020 in a Russia-brokered deal that saw Armenia cede chunks of territory it had occupied for decades.
In January 2021, the leaders of the three countries agreed to develop economic ties and infrastructure for the benefit of the entire Caucasus region.