MOSCOW — After marathon talks mediated by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed early on Saturday to stop hostilities around Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and start “substantive” peace negotiations.
In a joint statement, the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian foreign ministers said the ceasefire will take effect at noon “for the humanitarian purposes of exchanging prisoners of war and other captives and bodies of the dead.”
“Concrete parameters of the ceasefire regime will be agreed upon additionally,” said the statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
It said Baku and Yerevan are “embarking on substantive negotiations with the aim of rapidly achieving a peaceful settlement.” The talks will be held “on the basis of the basic principles of settlement,” added the statement.
It was an apparent reference to a framework peace accord that was first drafted by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in 2007 and has been repeatedly modified since then. The conflicting parties have for years disagreed on some key elements of the proposed deal.
The agreement was announced more than 10 hours after the start of Lavrov’s trilateral meeting in Moscow with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. According to the joint statement, it was made possible by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “understandings” reached with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The truce agreement came two weeks after the outbreak of large-scale hostilities along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Artsakh which have left hundreds of soldiers as well as dozens of civilians dead.