Armenia and Azerbaijan are once again on collision course along increasingly active front lines in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Mediators Russia, France and the U.S., should pressure Yerevan and Baku to tone down inflammatory rhetoric, agree to talks and take steps towards peace.
Defence ministry in late October proposed tougher policy on military service, making it harder for young men to avoid compulsory two years’ military service. Amendments, which would provide legal amnesty to those who have avoided army by staying outside country, prompted criticism from opposition and provoked days of student protests including some hunger strikes. Parliament 15 Nov adopted some of amendments in second final reading, president 29 Nov signed it into law. President Sargsyan met with Russian President Putin in Moscow 15 Nov, hailed bilateral cooperation. Following EU Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, EU and Armenia 24 Nov signed Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement.
Stronger international engagement is needed to help prevent the deadly conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan from escalating gravely at a time of internal political tensions in both.
Unless Armenia’s next presidential election is fair and gives its winner a strong political mandate, the government will lack the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reforms, tackle corruption and negotiate a peaceful end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Escalating front-line clashes, a spiralling arms race, vitriolic rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks increase the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh, with devastating regional consequences.
Turkey and Armenia are close to settling a dispute that has long roiled Caucasus politics, isolated Armenia and cast a shadow over Turkey’s European Union (EU) ambition.
Armenia’s flawed presidential election, the subsequent lethal crackdown against a peaceful protest rally, the introduction of a state of emergency and extensive arrests of opposition supporters have brought the country to its deepest crisis since the war against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh ended in 1994.
The [Armenian] government generally supports a deeper militarization of society. The reforms discussed plan to merge everyday life with military service – the so-called 'army-society' model.
A rare meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on 16 October 2017 could lead to a breakthrough. But the two countries have very different ideas on how to reconcile their competing narratives and goals in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Originally published in JAM News
Originally published in Factor
Originally published in Council on Foreign Relations