Sniper fire and clashes have become rare on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In a year that has seen positive steps to mitigate the decades-old conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, this photo essay illustrates how some Armenian front-line villagers’ lives have slowly improved.
Relative calm in conflict zone continued, but rhetoric between Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders remained tense ahead of planned meeting between their foreign ministers early Dec. In conflict zone, neither side reported casualties or major incidents, making Nov one of calmest months of 2019. Also in line with March agreement between leaders, groups of journalists from Baku, Yerevan, and Stepanakert visited each other’s capitals during last week of Nov for meetings with experts, journalists and NGOs, first such visits in over fifteen years seen as possible step forward in preparing populations for peace. Harsh rhetoric between leaders focused on historical interpretations of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict. During speech in Baku 14 Nov, Azerbaijani President Aliyev said NK had always been Azerbaijani land, accused Armenians of “genocide” against Azerbaijanis during 1992-1994 war, and excluded possibility of NK independence. Armenian PM Pashinyan 20 Nov gave speech in Italy accusing Azerbaijan of continuously preparing for war, and calling for Azerbaijan to consider interests of people living in NK, who will stay in region regardless of final outcome. During visit to Yerevan 10-11 Nov, Russian FM Lavrov supported Armenian demand to recognise NK’s role in peace process, stating that without consent of NK people no agreement could be reached; Baku responded with call to include Azerbaijani internally displaced persons from NK in peace process.
Rivalry persists between Russia and Turkey in their shared neighbourhood of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus. But Moscow-Ankara relations have warmed overall. Building on their wider rapprochement, the two powers can work together to tamp down flare-ups of regional conflicts.
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.
A preliminary breakthrough in the two-decades-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – a framework agreement on basic principles – may be within reach.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have failed to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, even though the framework for a fair settlement has been on the table since 2005. A comprehensive peace agreement before presidential elections in both countries in 2008 is now unlikely but the two sides still can and should agree before the polls to a document on basic principles, which if necessary clearly indicates the points that are still in dispute.
Settlement of the long running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict -- the most significant obstacle to stability in the South Caucasus -- remains elusive, despite more optimistic noises recently from Azerbaijan and Armenia. Eleven years after the 1994 ceasefire, burgeoning defence budgets, increasing ceasefire violations, and continuing demonisation by each side of the other side are ominous signs that time for a peace agreement is running out.
The chances for the potential escalation [of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] are very high. And the conflict will be more deadly this time, since both sides know each other’s capabilities
[A border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan] is really very strange and surprising. There have been very few incidents outside Nagorno-Karabakh this year.
With his party’s victory in the snap parliamentary elections and a new calm on the frontlines with Azerbaijan, Armenia’s leader Nikol Pashinyan and his team will have more space to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Armenia’s new government will likely adhere to long-held positions in its 30-year conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. But the two sides need more direct communication in the conflict zone. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 – Second Update early warning report, Crisis Group urges European policymakers to help forge these links to avoid renewed fighting.
Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on seizing a chance for peace in Mali, avoiding escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, mitigating conflict in Syria’s peripheral regions, and helping Somalia overcome obstacles to reform. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.
Crisis Group's Europe & Central Asia Program Director Magdalena Grono talks about the relations between Russia and Turkey as they reflect on the Black Sea and the South Caucasus.