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.
Govt completed first prisoner swaps with Azerbaijan as part of Russia-brokered ceasefire, while opposition protests calling for PM Pashinyan’s resignation continued. Baku and Yerevan 14 Dec exchanged first group of prisoners of war and civilians that included over 44 Armenian and 14 Azerbaijani detainees, with active participation of Russian peacekeeping forces deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh under Nov ceasefire deal; second group of four Armenian and two Azerbaijan detainees released on 28 Dec. Clashes 11-12 Dec took place between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces near villages under Armenian control in first violation of ceasefire agreement (see Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict). Govt announced that it had lifted some martial law restrictions imposed in Sept, including restrictions on holding protests and strikes. Hundreds of opposition demonstrators 8 Dec gathered in capital Yerevan after PM Nikol Pashinyan ignored calls to step down over Nov ceasefire with Azerbaijan. Thousands of Armenians 19 Dec began three days of mourning for victims of hostilities with Azerbaijan, marching through Yerevan. Hundreds of opposition supporters 22 Dec set up protest camp outside govt buildings in Yerevan in response to calls from opposition for national strike. Pashinyan 29 Dec started official discussions about snap parliamentary elections with three main political parties present at National Assembly; no date for possible vote announced yet. Meanwhile, French and American co-chairs of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group 14 Dec visited Yerevan for first time since Oct 2019: PM Pashinyan raised with co-chairs need to restore negotiations in format of Minsk Group co-chairmanship with aim of comprehensive settlement, and co-chairs stressed that they remained “committed to providing concrete proposals on issues raised during the meetings for future discussions between the sides.” Lack of clarity on new Armenia-Azerbaijan border 16-17 Dec sparked local protests involving hundreds of residents in southern Syunik region with some briefly blocking roads; defence ministry 17 Dec confirmed that Russian border troops would be stationed along state border in Syunik to ease tensions.
Fighting in July interrupted what had been a stretch of relative quiet on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The incidents underscored how quickly and unexpectedly this front can erupt. The two countries should take better advantage of a hotline created in 2018 to avoid dangerous misunderstandings.
The threat of coronavirus looms large in six self-declared republics that have broken away from post-Soviet states. War and isolation have corroded health care infrastructure, while obstructing the inflow of assistance. International actors should work with local and regional leaders to let life-saving aid through.
If they move quickly, Armenia and Azerbaijan could break out of their long impasse over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. They could pursue quiet talks on thorny issues – settlements, peacekeepers and final status – but along separate tracks rather than in a single package.
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.
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.
Many people would be very surprised if clashes at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border spiral out into war, but that doesn’t mean something cannot happen, say, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
The general public sees Mr. Kocharian as a person responsible for accelerating the political stagnation that led to economic decline and social problems in [Armenia].
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.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are again at war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Russia and France may be best-positioned to broker a ceasefire, but would need to offer parties prospects of attaining goals through talks. It will be a hard sell.
The fresh violence in the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border now threatens the livelihoods of many facing the impossible choice of leaving their crops to rot or risking their lives gathering their produce for market.
Settlements in proximity to the trenches on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border render civilians on both sides equally vulnerable.
Water was once abundant in the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, thanks to a network of reservoirs and irrigation pipes, but today shortages are chronic.