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.
Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway officially launched in Baku 30 Oct; railway connects Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to Europe, hailed as a new “bridge” to economic prosperity and regional stability. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) 11 Oct passed resolution condemning prosecution and detention of NGOs leaders, human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and bloggers, criticised cases of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment in country. Council of Europe 25 Oct called on govt to release imprisoned opposition politician Ilqar Mammadov. Umbrella group of opposition organisations organised anti-corruption protests in Baku during month, drawing hundreds; police estimated attendance at 1,000 on 28 Oct. UN human rights office 13 Oct reported UN rights experts’ alarm over reports of persecution of LGBT people, called on authorities to investigate.
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in early April killed up to 200 people, forcing international attention back to resolving the generation-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The time has come for a decisive push for progress in the peace talks. Both sides are on an unprecedented war footing, and any new clashes risk dragging outside parties into a wider war.
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.
As negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh stall, the Azerbaijan government has improved living conditions for the internally displaced (IDPs), though return to the occupied territories remains by far the preferred solution.
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.
If it continues to ignore the need for economic and political reform, Azerbaijan will squander an historic opportunity to use the country’s energy resources to build a more durable state system and a prosperous nation.
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 The International Herald Tribune