EU Council chief calls for dialogue on Karabakh

EU Council chief calls for dialogue on Karabakh

Charles Michel continues diplomatic efforts to ‘unblock situation’ in South Caucasus, says senior EU official

By Agnes Szucsf

BRUSSELS (AA) – European Council President Charles Michel urged a “dialogue meeting” between Azerbaijan and Armenians living in Karabakh, Anadolu Agency learned on Wednesday.

Michel remains “actively engaged” with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and continues with his diplomatic efforts to normalize relations between the two countries, a high-level EU official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters in Brussels.

Michel’s team and the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, have been “in close contact with Baku, Yerevan and Karabakh Armenians, discussing options for unblocking the situation,” the official further said.

Michel “stressed to the Azerbaijani side the urgent necessity to unblock the Lachin road” to prevent further escalation and to comply with the decision of the Hague-based International Court of Justice, according to the EU official.

The EU Council chief pointed out Azerbaijan’s “willingness to provide humanitarian assistance via other roads,” and urged all actors to “urgently” depoliticize the issue of humanitarian access, the official added.

Michel also called for a “dialogue meeting between Baku and Stepanakert,” or known as Khankendi, an Azerbaijani town in Karabakh where Armenians live, “to take place as soon as possible,” the source asserted.

Michel, who presides over meetings of EU leaders and represents the bloc in international affairs, has made significant diplomatic efforts for reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan following their conflict in 2020.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan 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.

In 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia, and the fighting ended with a deal brokered by Russia.

Despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries has risen in recent months over the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to the Karabakh region, where Azerbaijan established a border checkpoint in April on the grounds of preventing the illegal transport of military arms and equipment to the region.

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