US points to »significant progress» in »constructive» contacts between Armenia, Azerbaijan

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – Europa Press/Contacto/Lenin Nolly

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stressed that Armenia and Azerbaijan have made »significant progress» in their »constructive» contacts in the U.S. in recent days amid efforts to end their disputes, centered mainly on Nagorno Karabakh.

»After an intensive and constructive series of bilateral and trilateral discussions, the sides have made significant progress in addressing difficult issues,» said Blinken, who stressed that Yerevan and Baku »have demonstrated a sincere commitment to normalizing relations and ending the long-standing conflict between the two countries.»

Blinken, who participated in several of the meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoian, respectively, stressed that the two countries »have reached an agreement in principle on certain points and have a better understanding of each other’s position on the outstanding issues».

»I have proposed to the ministers to return to their capitals to share with their governments the prospect that, with additional goodwill, flexibility and compromise, agreement is within reach,» he stressed, before reiterating that Yerevan and Baku »will continue to have Washington’s full support» in efforts to »achieve a lasting and sustainable peace.»

In this regard, he stressed that »the only way to lasting peace is dialogue» and acknowledged that both countries have made »tangible progress» after addressing »very difficult issues» during this round of contacts in the North American country.

»Achieving a (peace) agreement would be not only historic, but would be in line with the interests of the peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia and would have very positive effects even beyond these two countries», he explained, before stressing that »the last kilometer of the marathon is always the hardest».

»The leadership we are seeing in Armenia and Azerbaijan (…) is inspiring. None of this is easy, but the commitment, the determination to move forward and address the outstanding issues that remain is real», said Blinken, who asserted that »a final agreement is within reach».

For their part, the foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan issued a joint statement in which they said that Mirzoian and Bayramov »exchanged their views on the situation and showed their positions on the existing issues related to the normalization of relations».

»The ministers and their teams advanced mutual understandings on some articles of the draft agreement on peace and establishment of relations, while acknowledging that positions on some key issues remain divergent,» the statement said, expressing appreciation to the United States for hosting the meetings and including an agreement to »continue discussions.»

Armenia and Azerbaijan have had several clashes in recent years, the last one in 2020, over the control of Nagorno Karabakh, an Azeri territory with a majority Armenian population that has been the focus of conflict since it decided to separate in 1988 from the region of Azerbaijan integrated into the Soviet Union.

Tensions rose again with new security incidents between the two countries due to Baku’s decision to install a «border post» in the Lachin corridor, something criticized by Yerevan and Moscow, which has peacekeeping troops deployed in the area following the ceasefire agreement after the 2020 war.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly denounced the transit of arms and ammunition through the Lachin corridor and has said that these operations take place despite the presence of Russian forces in the area, arguing that they should ensure that such deliveries do not take place.