A fragile truce concluded on 14 September halted fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia that left hundreds of soldiers dead. In this Q&A, Crisis Group explains what occurred and what needs to happen now to restart the peace process between the two foes.
Tensions with Armenia persisted amid numerous reports of shooting along border and in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK); diplomatic efforts to reach peace deal continued.
Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations of shooting along border. Situation at Armenia-Azerbaijan border remained fragile following Sept clashes, with both sides reporting shooting along front line during month. Kremlin 7 Nov called on parties to refrain from actions that could spark “escalation”, while U.S. State Dept 12 Nov said it was “deeply concerned” by reports. Meanwhile, tensions simmered in NK conflict zone, with de facto authorities reporting one civilian and at least two servicemen killed 10, 28 Nov respectively (see Nagorno-Karabakh).
Support for bilateral diplomacy continued, but Azerbaijan contested French efforts. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 7 Nov hosted Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs in U.S. capital Washington, praising “courageous steps” toward peace. French President Macron and Armenian PM Pashinyan 19 Nov highlighted importance of “strengthening stability and security in the South Caucasus” during Summit of International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) in Tunisia; according to Pashinyan’s press office, Armenian PM also “stressed the need to eliminate the consequences of Azerbaijani aggression”. Azerbaijan same day criticised OIF members’ “anti-Azerbaijani position” while President Aliyev 25 Nov cancelled Dec meeting with Pashinyan over Armenian request to involve Macron. Meanwhile, Pashinyan 10 Nov made public Armenian proposal to establish demilitarised zone along state border after Azerbaijani troops withdraw from Armenian territory; Baku had not responded by end of month.
In other important developments. President Aliyev 16 Nov signed decree endorsing program for reconstruction and resettlement in territories recaptured during 2020 war; under program, known as “The Great Return”, Azerbaijan plans to return 34,500 displaced families between 2022-2026. Parliament 18 Nov approved decision to open embassy in Israel, which has had an embassy in capital Baku since 1992.
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-Ka...
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.
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.
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.
Fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh is decimating towns and cities, displacing tens of thousands and killing scores. Combatants must cease attacks on populated areas and let humanitarian aid through. International actors, notably the UN and OSCE, should send monitors and push harder for a ceasefire.
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.
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