Journalist Shahin Hajiyev visited Armenia in Feb. 2019.
VoA Azerbaijani Service media grab.

Foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan “expressed their willingness to start concrete work on establishing contacts between people, including through mutual visits of media representatives.” This is according to the OSCE Minsk Group statement released on April 15, following the meeting between Elmar Mamedyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, hosted in Moscow by their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The approach would signify a change in policy by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, whose government sought to shut down Track II and media exchanges since the early 2000s. As part of this policy, a prominent journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov faced treason charges and imprisonment over his visits to Armenia; Mirkadyrov has since been forced to emigrate. In an earlier case, Eynulla Fatullayev was imprisoned over his reporting from Artsakh in 2005. Following his release from prison, Fatullayev turned from a government critic into a government propagandist.

No Armenian journalists have been able to visit and report from Azerbaijan in more than 15 years.

Initial sign that things were changing appeared last year, when Turan news agency journalist Shahin Hajiyev received permission from the Azerbaijani government to visit Armenia. He eventually did so last February, filing a series of reports on his interviews.

There has been a steady relaxation in Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions since after the April war of 2016. Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders most recently met in Vienna at the end of March. CivilNet journalist Tatul Hakobyan noted that for the first time since after the Heydar Aliyev – Robert Kocharyan talks, there is a positive atmosphere around the negotiations.

UPDATE: On April 18, Mamedyarov said that he and his Armenian foreign minister have been invited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet in Washington. The Armenian foreign ministry said that Mamedyarov’s statement was rushed and that details are yet to be agreed.

UPDATE 2: In 2009, Russia’s government facilitated visits by Armenian and Azerbaijani “intelligentsia representatives” to Baku, Stepanakert, Shushi and Yerevan. Three Armenian media representatives were part of the group that went to Baku, but they were not there in journalistic capacity.