Restart Initiative welcomes the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, on the initiative of European Council President Charles Michel. Held on the eve of today’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, and despite lingering tensions, Restart Initiative believes that the meeting is a positive step in the right direction. This is especially true given that both leaders were also able to speak privately without any other interlocutors present.
A number of agreements were reached during the unprecedented meeting, most notably on the issue of border delimitation and demarcation as well as the restoration of rail links in the region. The European Union offered its technical and financial assistance in these endeavours, its first direct engagement with the conflict. Michel also reiterated the European Union’s support for the 9 November 2020 ceasefire agreement, 11 January 2021 statement, and understandings reached in Sochi on 26 November.
In his statement following the talks, Michel also underscored the European Union’s support for humanitarian initiatives including the release of any remaining captives and demining. A direct line of communication at the level of Defense Ministers will be introduced to de-escalate tensions and the European Union also plans to launch an economic advisory platform to facilitate and encourage peaceful coexistence and cooperation in the region.
“We believe that economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia can help form the basis for lasting peace,” says Restart Initiative Chairman Emin Milli. “This meeting was very important for that and I hope that further important decisions will be made for the physical and economic security of both peoples.”
“Supporting dialogue and peacebuilding between Armenia and Azerbaijan is one of Restart Initiative’s main areas of focus,” says Restart Initiative Executive Director Jeanene Mitchell. “We therefore stand ready to support any and all such processes.”