CrisisWatch Azerbaijan

Unchanged Situation

Efforts to advance peace deal with Armenia continued amid tense debates about border villages; authorities cracked down on media.

Tensions over settlements erupted after border commission meeting. Amid stepped-up peace efforts in recent weeks, Azerbaijan and Armenia 7 March conducted seventh meeting of sides’ border delimitation commissions; parties agreed to finalise draft regulation for commissions’ activities and delimitation procedures “as soon as possible”. After meeting, Deputy PM Mustafayev 9 March said Yerevan should return four non-enclave Azerbaijani villages it has held since early 1990s before sides start delimiting and demarcating border; villages are strategically positioned along highway leading to Georgia and near pipeline supplying Russian gas to Armenia. Armenian PM Pashinyan 18 March acknowledged govt had “decided to adjust the border”, warning of another war if sides refuse to compromise. Meanwhile, U.S. Senior Adviser for Caucasus Louis Bono and NATO Sec Gen Jens Stoltenberg visited Azerbaijan and Armenia separately during month to discuss peace agreement.

Baku criticised upcoming EU-U.S.-Armenia talks. Armenia’s Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan 21 March announced Pashinyan will meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in Brussels on 5 April. Meeting to focus on trilateral cooperation aimed at strengthening Armenia’s “economic resilience” and steps that lay groundwork for future EU integration. Azerbaijan 27 March criticised upcoming talks as “one-sided” and “biased”.

Baku accused Yerevan of massing troops along border. Azerbaijan 31 March accused Armenia of troop build-up along border; Armenia same day denied allegation, while EU Border Observation Mission reported “no unusual movements”.

Media crackdown continued. Police 6 March raided offices of online opposition platform Toplum TV, its partner organisation Institute for Democratic Initiatives and newly-founded Third Republic Platform, reportedly arresting at least ten people; court 9 March sentenced seven individuals to four months’ pre-trial detention. Toplum TV’s Editor-in-Chief Khadija Ismayil 8 March accused authorities of attempting “to silence the media”; U.S. same day urged authorities to halt “crackdown on free expression”.  

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Zaur Shiriyev

Analyst, South Caucasus
Zaur Shiriyev

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