If they move quickly, Armenia and Azerbaijan could break out of their long impasse over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. They could pursue quiet talks on thorny issues – settlements, peacekeepers and final status – but along separate tracks rather than in a single package.
No breakthrough in talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan early month, however relative calm continued in conflict zone. Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs met during Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Summit in Bratislava 4 Dec. Armenian FM Mnatsakanyan presented Yerevan’s approach to peace process, including support for NK’s right of self-determination, NK security, need for NK participation in negotiating process, and implementation of OSCE mechanisms for monitoring ceasefire and investigating violations. Azerbaijani circulated memorandum on its position on NK status, return of adjacent territories and security provisions. Azerbaijani FM Mammadyarov said in media interview 5 Dec Armenia’s side’s emphasis on addressing status is pointless before return of internally displaced persons, also said Armenia has not defined security; Yerevan responded claiming it remains sole guarantor of NK security, and reiterated NK right to self-determination. FMs agreed to continue talks early Jan 2020. After summit, OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs 5 Dec released joint statement praising Nov exchange of journalists between Armenia and Azerbaijan and June release of detainees, but also urged both sides to assist International Committee for Red Cross with data on missing persons and to resume discussions on expanding Office of Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office responsible for monitoring along front lines. Azerbaijan and Armenia 17 Dec reported exchange of fire with light weapons in Noyemberyan-Gazakh border region close to civilian-populated areas, first time in more than a year.
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.
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.