Azerbaijan’s president on Wednesday reiterated his country’s willingness to establish relations with neighboring Armenia.
Receiving credentials of the new head of EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Peter Michalko, President Ilham Aliyev said: “We want to establish relations with our neighbor Armenia and we are ready to start negotiations on the peace agreement, delimitation, and opening communications.”
“This process has partly begun, but I believe that if the European Union is fully involved and I sense such a willingness, it will be able to assist us in many areas,” the president was quoted by Azerbaijan’s state news agency Azertac as saying.
Aliyev stressed that the bloc could contribute to the development, permanent stability, and cooperation in the region.
Aliyev said the liberation of Upper Karabakh in 2020 by Azerbaijan could lead to stability, and peace in the region.
- Liberation of Karabakh
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27 last year, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.
On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.
The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.
Prior to this victory, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal occupation for nearly 30 years.