In a landmark development, Armenia and Azerbaijan have jointly declared their commitment to normalising relations and are set to exchange prisoners captured during the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
This move comes after decades of hostilities over the disputed territory, marking a significant step towards achieving a long-sought-after peace.
In a carefully crafted joint statement released on Thursday night, the two nations expressed optimism, referring to the current situation as a “historical chance” for lasting peace. The announcement revealed their shared aspiration to finalise a comprehensive peace treaty by the year’s end, signalling a potential end to the protracted conflict that has plagued the region.
Azerbaijan’s swift military offensive in September effectively ended three decades of ethnic Armenian rule in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory. This resulted in the displacement of most of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians, who fled to neighbouring Armenia.
In a groundbreaking move towards reconciliation, both nations pledged to work collaboratively on a peace treaty that upholds mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity. As a goodwill gesture, Baku is releasing 32 Armenian military servicemen, while Yerevan is reciprocating by releasing two military servicemen.
Egypt Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zayed welcomed the announcement by both Armenia and Azerbaijan of adopting confidence-building measures to sign a peace agreement. He stated, “Egypt appreciates all the efforts made to reach this step, in an effort to achieve peace in the South Caucasus, and in a way that contributes to supporting international peace and security.”
The European Council President, Charles Michel, hailed the joint statement as a “major breakthrough in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations,” underscoring the significance of the accord. The United States also commended the development, describing it as “an important confidence-building measure.”
In an unexpected turn of events, Azerbaijan is now positioned to host the upcoming UN COP29 climate summit next year. This decision comes after Azerbaijan and its historical rival, Armenia, brokered a late agreement, leading Armenia to withdraw its candidacy in favour of supporting Armenia’s bid for a regional group associated with the climate talks.
In a unified call to action, both countries urged the international community to lend its support to their collective efforts for reconciliation. The breakthrough agreement emerged from constructive talks between the office of Armenia’s Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and the administration of Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev.