Armenia and Azerbaijan foreign ministers hold first meeting since 2020

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Georgia for their first bilateral meeting since 2020 when thousands died in a conflict over control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The meeting between Armenian foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Tbilisi comes months after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Brussels.

The pair met to “advance discussions” on a peace treaty between the countries.

“This is the first meeting between the ministers, and we hope that it will bring in a result,” Aliyev said on Friday.

However, the atmosphere was tense ahead of the meeting in Tbilisi, as several armed incidents have recently taken place along the border between the two countries, including a shootout on Friday night.

After the meeting, Armenia’s foreign ministry released a statement that said the pair discussed “a wide range of issues”.

“The parties discussed the implementation of the agreements reached [by the leaders of the two countries] and discussed possible future steps,” the statement said.

Mirzoyan also called for the release of Armenian prisoners currently held by Azerbaijan since 2020 and an investigation into the whereabouts of missing people.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought in two wars since the Soviet Union collapsed.

In 2020, more than 6,500 people died in six weeks of fighting.

The conflict eventually ended after Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement under which Armenia ceded large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh — a territory nestled between the two countries — while Moscow deployed around 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the truce.

However, Russia stepped back as the primary mediator after it invaded Ukraine in late February, and the European Union has taken over the role since.

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