A fragile truce concluded on 14 September halted fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia that left hundreds of soldiers dead. In this Q&A, Crisis Group explains what occurred and what needs to happen now to restart the peace process between the two foes.
Tensions with Azerbaijan persisted amid numerous reports of shooting along border and in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), efforts to reach peace deal continued, and CSTO summit took place in Yerevan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations of shooting along border. Situation at Armenia-Azerbaijan border remained fragile following Sept clashes, with both sides reporting shooting along front line during month. Kremlin 7 Nov called on parties to refrain from actions that could spark “escalation”, while U.S. State Dept 12 Nov said it was “deeply concerned” by reports. Meanwhile, tensions simmered in NK conflict zone, with de facto authorities reporting one civilian and at least two servicemen killed 10, 28 Nov respectively (see Nagorno-Karabakh).
Support for bilateral diplomacy continued, but Azerbaijan contested French efforts. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 7 Nov hosted Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs in U.S. capital Washington, praising “courageous steps” toward peace. French President Macron and PM Pashinyan 19 Nov highlighted importance of “strengthening stability and security in the South Caucasus” during Summit of International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) in Tunisia; according to Pashinyan’s press office, PM also “stressed the need to eliminate the consequences of Azerbaijani aggression”. Azerbaijan same day criticised OIF members’ “anti-Azerbaijani position” while country’s President Aliyev 25 Nov cancelled Dec meeting with Pashinyan over Armenian request to involve Macron. Meanwhile, Pashinyan 10 Nov made public Armenian proposal to establish demilitarised zone along state border after Azerbaijani troops withdraw from Armenian territory; Baku had not responded by end of month.
Armenia hosted CSTO summit. Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit 23 Nov took place in capital Yerevan for discussions on international and regional security issues. Pashinyan refused to sign declaration on “joint measures on providing assistance to Armenia”, saying it did not address Yerevan’s concerns regarding CSTO’s “lack of a clear political assessment” on conflict with Azerbaijan.
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This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Crisis Group’s South Caucasus expert Olesya Vartanyan about the conflict in and over Nagorno-Karabakh, a year on from a Russian-brokered ceasefire that put an end to renewed large-scale fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh left many issues unresolved and the front lines volatile. The parties should establish a formal communication channel to address urgent post-war problems, Russian peacekeepers need a clearer mandate and aid agencies must be granted access to the conflict zone.
Russian mediation succeeded in ending the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh but left much unresolved, chiefly the region’s future status. If the cessation of hostilities is to become a sustainable peace, the parties should start by cooperating on humanitarian relief and trade before tackling larger questions.
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