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European Council President Hosts Top-Level Talks On Nagorno-Karabakh


European Council President Charles Michel took the role of a mediator during Wednesday's meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The two leaders spoke in person for the first time since the March flare-up in military tensions over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • The aggravation of situation in Nagorno-Karabakh occurred amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, which diverts Russia's attention from the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia). The region holds strategic importance as a theatre of Turkish and Russian rivalry over influence in the Black Sea area.
  • While Russian troops did not intervene in defence of military ally Armenia when tensions with Azerbaijan first resurfaced last year, they stepped in to enforce a peace deal (unfavourable for Armenia) brokered by Moscow.
  • Russia's current inability to perform mediating and stabilisation activities in the South Caucasus encouraged the European Union to take the initiative and fill the diplomatic vacuum left by Russia.
  • The collapse of Russia's diplomatic credibility and financial standing opens a window of opportunity for the EU to play a more active geopolitical role in the region. While Armenia receives considerably more development aid under the Eastern Partnership initiative, Azerbaijan could provide an attractive alternative to Russian gas imports.

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