CrisisWatch Azerbaijan

Unchanged Situation

International efforts to advance peace negotiations continued but with little progress, European Union (EU) launched monitoring mission, and relations with Iran continued to worsen.

Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged draft peace treaty, but talks between FMs did not resume. Blockade of Lachin corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) with Armenia (see Nagorno-Karabakh) continued to hinder diplomatic efforts, with no meetings in Feb between Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs, who are responsible for formal negotiations on peace treaty. Still, Armenian PM Pashinyan 16 Feb announced Yerevan had sent draft proposal of peace treaty to Baku, which President Aliyev 18 Feb confirmed receiving. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 18 Feb chaired meeting with Pashinyan and Aliyev at Munich Security Conference to discuss progress on draft, among other issues. Meanwhile, Russia intensified its own mediation efforts amid growing competition with West over peace agenda. Notably, Russian Special Representative Igor Khovayev 9, 14 Feb visited Yerevan and Baku, respectively; Russian President Putin 14 Feb spoke with Aliyev; and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 27 Feb met with Aliyev in Baku.

Armenia and Azerbaijan debated control of corridors, EU launched monitoring mission. Aliyev 18 Feb proposed establishing Azerbaijani checkpoints along Lachin corridor and creating similar Armenian checkpoints at Azerbaijan-Armenia state border along any future railway and motorway connecting mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhichevan via Armenia; Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan 22 Feb rejected proposal, saying Russian peacekeepers should retain control of Lachin corridor (see Nagorno-Karabakh). Meanwhile, EU 20 Feb launched civilian monitoring mission along Armenian side of international border with Azerbaijan, aimed at contributing to border stability, building confidence and supporting efforts toward normalisation.

Relations with Iran continued to deteriorate. Following armed attack late Jan on Azerbaijani embassy in Iran’s capital Tehran, Azerbaijan 31 Jan-1 Feb conducted “special police operations”, resulting in detention of 39 members of “Iranian spy network” and 66 members of criminal gang that trafficked drugs from Iran to Azerbaijan. Aliyev 17 Feb accused Iran explicitly for first time of orchestrating attack on embassy and called for transparent investigation and consequences for those responsible before any normalisation can occur.

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