Azerbaijan says Armenia agrees ‘historic’ return of four villages

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 10:51 AM

BAKU (Reuters) – Armenia has agreed to return to Azerbaijan four villages situated on their shared border, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada said on Friday.

Hajizada posted on X that the four villages had been held by Armenia since the early 1990s and their return was a “long-awaited historic event”.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two countries had reached a preliminary agreement on four sections of their disputed border.

Azerbaijan has said the return of the villages is a necessary precondition for a peace deal to end more than three decades of conflict between the two countries, which were both part of the Soviet Union.

Friday’s agreement, at a meeting chaired by deputy prime ministers of both countries, was the clearest sign yet of progress between the two sides.

After two major wars between them, momentum shifted dramatically in favour of Azerbaijan last September when its forces staged a lightning offensive to regain control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where ethnic Armenians had enjoyed de facto independence since the mid-1990s.

(Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Maxim Rodionov and Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)