CrisisWatch Azerbaijan

Unchanged Situation

Baku and Yerevan continued bilateral work on peace treaty, but internationally mediated talks remained on hold; tensions with EU rose ahead of 7 February presidential election. 

Baku and Yerevan exchanged draft peace treaty amid simmering tensions. Bilateral efforts on Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty continued, with Yerevan 4 Jan returning draft proposal to Baku. In interview that nearly derailed efforts, however, President Aliyev 10 Jan said Baku could cease participation in talks should Yerevan refuse to compromise, notably regarding security measures along border; he also reiterated calls for Russian-supervised corridor connecting mainland with exclave Nakhchivan, threatened military action if Armenia continued to procure weapons or ever sought to reclaim Nagorno-Karabakh (see Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict) and claimed “all of Zangezur” – alluding to southern Armenia – and other areas were historically Azerbaijani territory. Armenian PM Pashinyan 13 Jan decried “unacceptable territorial claims” but later softened stance, while EU 22 Jan threatened “severe consequences” if Armenia’s territorial integrity is violated. Sides 31 Jan held fresh talks on border delimitation but provided no details on what was discussed. 

Baku continued to reject foreign mediation as Russia sought greater role. Senior EU and U.S. officials mid Jan travelled to capital Yerevan for talks, but not to Azerbaijan; EU Special Representative for South Caucasus Toivo Klaar 19 Jan cited Baku’s need to focus on Feb election, though Azerbaijani media suggested cooling relations with West over Baku’s takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh could be reason for not involving foreign mediators. Russia, meanwhile, sought to reassert its dominant role in region. Notably, Armenia’s ruling party 16 Jan confirmed partial delivery of Russian weaponry after two-year delay; Russian FM Lavrov 18 Jan touted Russian mediation in 2023, blamed West for acting as spoiler. 

In other important developments. Ahead of 7 Feb presidential poll, authorities 13 Jan arrested Elnara Gasimova in Baku for alleged people smuggling, tenth journalist detained in three months. Meanwhile, Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe 24 Jan did not ratify credentials of Azerbaijani delegation, citing among other things concern about “free and fair elections”, “respect for human rights” and Baku’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Zaur Shiriyev

Analyst, South Caucasus
Zaur Shiriyev

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