This week’s meeting between Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers is likely to centre on security issues, including numbers of international observers in Nagorno-Karabakh. But frustration with the peace process will grow unless both foreign ministers address the critical political aspects of a future settlement.
Ahead of its election of new PM 17 April, who under new constitution will effectively lead country, National Assembly 8 Feb passed in first hearing amendments to several laws, including: reviewed law on Security Council to guarantee PM’s exclusive responsibility for defence policy, and established new position of vice PM. Current President Sargsyan widely expected to be elected PM. Armen Sarkissian 16 Feb officially confirmed his candidacy for presidential elections in National Assembly 2 March; also widely expected to win. Speaking at Munich Security Conference 17 Feb Sargsyan confirmed his readiness to denounce 2009 Zurich Protocols by end of his current term early April; Protocols were signed by Armenia and Turkey as part of planned normalisation process supported by U.S. and Russia.
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.
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