The EU is sending a mission to monitor the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains what else the EU and its member states can do to avert another war and revitalise peace talks.
Continued blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) led to standoff in peace talks with Azerbaijan, and European Union (EU) approved civilian monitoring mission to Armenia’s border areas.
Blockade of NK brought peace talks with Azerbaijan to near standstill. Azerbaijan-backed protesters’ continued blockade of Lachin corridor, only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia (see Nagorno-Karabakh), derailed all diplomacy built around Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. Communication between Yerevan and Baku throughout Jan was almost non-existent as sides exchanged blame for standoff, despite EU and Georgian attempts to arrange talks. Notably, EU early Jan tried to convene associates of Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders, but Baku cancelled participation. Georgia also reportedly proposed trilateral cooperation format after receiving request from Baku. However, Azerbaijani President Aliyev 19 Jan said at World Economic Forum that Yerevan had rejected proposal; FM Ararat Mirzoyan 20 Jan responded, saying “Armenia is greatly interested in developing trilateral dialogue” but that initiative failed due to disagreement with Baku over Armenian demand for joint statement against hate speech. Russian foreign ministry 27 Jan emphasised Moscow’s “readiness to organise talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers”.
EU approved monitoring mission to Armenia. In positive move aimed at preventing new escalation along Armenia-Azerbaijan border, EU 23 Jan announced it will deploy two-year civilian monitoring mission to Armenia in border areas to contribute to “stability”, “build confidence on the ground and ensure an environment conducive to normalisation efforts”. Azerbaijan next day warned that EU mission must not be used “for derailing the normalisation process, including in the context of border delimitation process”.
In other important developments. PM Pashinyan 10 Jan said Armenia would not host annual drills for Russian-led military Collective Security Treaty Organisation alliance due to regional instability. Six months after Armenian and Turkish special envoys announced renewed efforts to normalise relations, Türkiye 6 Jan lifted ban on direct cargo flights with Armenia.
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This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Olesya Vartanyan and Zaur Shiriyev, Crisis Group’s South Caucasus experts, about where things stand between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the deadly border clashes in September and whether a peace agreement might be within reach.
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This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s UN Director Richard Gowan about the state of the UN as world leaders meet for General Assembly week, and also catches up with Europe and Central Asia Program Director Olga Oliker about the latest from Ukraine and violence on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
Six months of contacts between Türkiye and Armenia have brought an agreement to move toward opening their shared border and launching direct trade. But Ankara and Yerevan are far apart on many issues. The road ahead will be long.
Turkish and Armenian special envoys will meet in Moscow on 14 January to discuss normalising relations between these long-estranged neighbours. Crisis Group experts Olesya Vartanyan, Nigar Göksel and Zaur Shiriyev unpack how the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 opened the way for talks.
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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