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Sunday May 19, 2024

Armenia ready for peace deal if Azerbaijan shows political will

Kostanyan said Armenia wanted a full normalisation of ties with Turkey

By Reuters
March 03, 2024
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. — AFP/File
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. — AFP/File

ANTALYA, Turkey: Armenia is ready to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan if Baku shows the same political will, and is keen to make progress on normalising relations with Turkey, a senior Armenian official said on Saturday.

Yerevan and Baku said in December they wanted to reach a peace deal after decades of being at odds, but no agreement has been signed yet.

The most divisive issue has long been the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. Baku’s forces recaptured the mountainous area in September after years of ethnic Armenian control, prompting most of its ethnic Armenians to flee to Armenia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan said Armenia had the political will for a normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan based on principles previously agreed upon by the two sides.

“This is an issue of political will and leadership,” he told Reuters in an interview during the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

He said Yerevan had shown the political will needed, including at talks on Friday between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey, Baku’s main backer.

“Now, if the Azerbaijani side is really interested in having peace, we just need to agree to put the agreed principles by the leaders (on paper) and sign it,” he said. Among outstanding issues is the lack of agreement over their shared border, with each side holding small areas surrounded by the other’s territory.

Kostanyan said the two sides needed to recognise each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and drew attention to Yerevan’s “Crossroads for Peace” plan for opening n communication lines in the region to help regional stability.

There was no immediate comment from Baku in his remarks.

NATO member Turkey has deepened political and military ties with Azerbaijan in recent years but has also been working to revive ties with Armenia after decades of animosity after severing diplomatic and commercial ties in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan during a war Baku was fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kostanyan said Armenia wanted a full normalisation of ties with Turkey, including the opening of their shared border and establishment of diplomatic relations.

“The establishment of diplomatic relations is basically communications between two states,” he said. “Of course, reconciliation between two nations can take longer, but we need to have diplomatic relations which will help us and help our people.”