In what have been called “last-chance” talks, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are said to have made important progress over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Despite the Azeri leader, Ilham Aliyev, raising the stakes beforehand by threatening to take the region back by force, international mediators in Munich appeared upbeat.
OSCE mediator, Robert Bradtke was impressed, saying:
“I think today what was impressive was the way the two presidents worked with us, the depths of their discussion, the seriousness of the discussion, their willingness to discuss points that are quite difficult and controversial.”
Some 30,000 people died in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which erupted after the mountainous region declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.
Backed by Christian Armenia, the region and seven surrounding Azeri districts have been under ethnic Armenian control since a Russian-brokered ceasefire in 1994.
Azeri ally Turkey is also pressing for progress in the negotiations before it ratifies a deal with neighbouring Armenia to establish diplomatic relations and open the border it closed in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan.