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.
Efforts to unblock Lachin corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) with Armenia failed to produce results, and Baku and de facto leadership met to discuss energy supply issues.
Lachin blockade continued throughout month. Azerbaijani govt-backed activists’ blockade of Lachin corridor, only road linking Armenian-populated NK to Armenia, continued, worsening humanitarian crisis. Diplomatic efforts failed to produce breakthrough. Armenian PM Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev 18 Feb met with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken at Munich Security Conference (MSC) (see Armenia and Azerbaijan), where Blinken highlighted importance of “free and open commercial and private transit through the Lachin corridor”. However, leaders same day engaged in panel discussion on security in South Caucasus, where Aliyev denied blockades’ existence. International Court of Justice 22 Feb ordered Azerbaijan to “ensure unimpeded movement” along Lachin corridor. Pashinyan 23 Feb said decision was “extremely important” and “satisfies Armenia’s claim”, while Azerbaijan claimed Armenian authorities had misrepresented ruling; UN and EU same day released statements noting court decision and repeating calls to open road.
Armenia and Azerbaijan debated control of corridors. During MSC, President Aliyev 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; Aliyev claimed Europe and U.S. had found proposal “logical”. Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan 22 Feb rejected proposal, saying Russian peacekeepers should retain control of Lachin corridor, as stipulated in 2020 ceasefire deal to end second NK war.
Baku and Stepanakert resumed meetings after dismissal of controversial de facto official. NK’s de facto leader, Araik Harutyunyan, 22 Feb dismissed Russian businessman Ruben Vardanyan as state minister, citing strategic differences in their approaches to internal and external issues; Vardanyan’s appointment in Nov 2022 had angered Baku, which claimed Moscow had sent him to NK “with a very clear agenda” and thus ruled out negotiations with him. One day after Vardanyan’s removal, Russian peacekeepers reported first talks between de facto leadership and Azerbaijani representatives on gas and electricity supply issues, which began after start of Lachin blockade.
The fate of the Karabakh Armenians is a core issue for ending the hostility between the two countries [Armenia and Azerbaijan]. No one has laid out what’s the best way.
With the current crisis in Ukraine, it is not easy for those in the West to support the Russian presence in Nagorno-Karabakh.
This is a more serious escalation [over Nagorno-Karabakh], much better prepared, with more troops, and happening simultaneously on all parts of the front line.
We are a step away from a large-scale war (between Armenia and Azerbaijan).
At some point there are things that require somebody to set a leadership agenda. [OSCE] can’t do all of that without somebody in charge.
It seems unlikely the [Azerbaijan-Armenia] crisis would escalate, as neither side has territorial claims on northern border areas and the fighting had not spread to Karab...
The European Union is sending monitors to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, so as to lessen the danger of renewed fighting between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh and other issues. Brussels must give the mission the means and mandate it will need to succeed.
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.
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.
Several soldiers have been killed in clashes between Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenian forces answering to the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, raising fears of escalation. Crisis Group experts Olesya Vartanyan, Zaur Shiriyev and Anita Mihaeljana explain what can be done to safeguard the ceasefire.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised fears of renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh but also hopes of mediation opportunities. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to facilitate diplomatic efforts, preserve Moscow’s role in conflict resolution and make clear that they will support any agreed steps toward an eventual settlement.
Fresh clashes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh imperil the November 2020 ceasefire monitored by Russian peacekeepers. Even as they square off over Ukraine, Russia, Western powers and Turkey should endeavour to reach a quiet agreement on how to avert escalation in the South Caucasus.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.
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.
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