Development pact signed at 3-way Caucasus summit in Moscow
Pact follows 4 hours of talks between Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian leaders 2 months after cease-fire declared
Meeting two months after a cease-fire was declared for the Caucasus' Nagorno-Karabakh region, ending over a month of conflict, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia Monday signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region.
Speaking in Moscow alongside Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, and Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s premier, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the talks as “extremely important and useful.”
“We were able to come to an agreement … on the development of the situation in the region,” Putin told reporters after four hours of trilateral talks.
“I mean concrete steps to build economic ties and develop infrastructure projects. For this purpose, a working group will be created, which will be headed by the vice-premiers of three governments – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. In the near future they will create working expert subgroups, present concrete plans for the development of transport infrastructure and the region's economy.”
He added: “I am confident that the implementation of these agreements will benefit both the Armenian and Azerbaijani people and, without any doubt, will benefit the region as a whole.”
The Russian leader also said the Nov. 10 agreement between the three countries ending the 44-day Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had generally been fulfilled, adding that Russian military units temporarily in the region are carrying out their duties.
Relations between the former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and even violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the six-week-long conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages, while at least 2,802 of its soldiers were martyred. There are differing claims about the number of casualties on the Armenian side, which, sources and officials say, could be up to 5,000.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work towards a comprehensive resolution.
A joint Turkish-Russian center is being established to monitor the truce. Russian peacekeeping troops have also been deployed in the region.
The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have withdrawn in line with the agreement.
Violations, however, have been reported in the past few weeks, with some Armenian soldiers said to have been hiding in the mountainous enclave.