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Armenia, Azerbaijan, Announce Intent to Normalise Relations

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Declaring a potential turning point in their decades-long conflict over the disputed territory, Armenia and Azerbaijan on Thursday night released a joint statement expressing their shared belief in a “historical chance” for achieving “long-awaited peace” and their intention to move towards normalising relations and exchange prisoners captured during the recent conflict over the disputed region.

The conflict escalated in September when Azerbaijan launched a rapid military offensive, ending three decades of ethnic Armenian rule in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory. The offensive resulted in the displacement of most of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians to neighbouring Armenia. Both countries expressed their hope to sign a comprehensive peace treaty by the end of the year, aiming to solidify their commitment to the peace process.

The European Council President Charles Michel praised the joint statement, calling it a “major breakthrough in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations,” and the U.S. welcomed it as an “important confidence-building measure.” As a gesture of goodwill, Azerbaijan is set to release 32 Armenian military servicemen, while Armenia will release two military servicemen. This exchange is seen as a positive step towards building trust and fostering peace between the two nations.

Azerbaijan is preparing to free 32 Armenian military members as a sign of peace, while Armenia will release two military servicemen. This exchange is viewed as a positive step towards promoting trust and peace between the two countries. The joint statement was hailed by European Council President Charles Michel as a “major breakthrough in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations,” while the US applauded it as an “important confidence-building measure.”

Together with the prisoner exchange, the two countries announced that they would sign a comprehensive peace treaty that would emphasise respect for each other’s territorial integrity. Other notable decisions included Armenia withdrawing its bid to host the COP29 climate summit in favour of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan endorsing Armenia’s candidature in a regional body related to climate talks. Finally, they called on the international community to support them in their efforts to achieve lasting peace.

The breakthrough happened during discussions between the offices of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. These talks have been in progress, facilitated by the EU, the US, and Russia, with both leaders meeting many times to facilitate normalisation. Azerbaijan refused to engage in meetings in the United States and Spain, claiming perceived prejudice. However, talks restarted in Iran at the end of October, which resulted in this latest encouraging development.

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