CrisisWatch Azerbaijan

Unchanged Situation

Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks remained on hold amid latter’s cooling relations with EU and U.S., and fears of border escalation simmered.

Peace talks with Armenia remained on hold. Azerbaijan’s drift away from EU and U.S.-facilitated peace talks continued. Having twice cancelled participation in EU-mediated meetings in Oct, Baku 16 Nov withdrew from meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs slated for 20 Nov in Washington DC, criticising “one-sided and biased” remarks by Assistant Sec State James O’Brien; O’Brien earlier that day had spoken publicly about U.S. decision to pause bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan until peace deal was reached with Armenia. Instead, Azerbaijan 21 Nov proposed direct negotiations with Armenia in “mutually acceptable” location. In meantime, Armenia 21 Nov returned sixth draft of peace treaty to Azerbaijan. Deputy PMs of Azerbaijan and Armenia 30 Nov held fifth meeting of border-delimitation commissions, agreed to “intensify” talks.

EU announced renewed support to Armenia, including along border with Azerbaijan. EU High Representative Josep Borrell 13 Nov announced decision to expand EU Mission in Armenia with “more observers and more patrols” along border with Azerbaijan; Borrell also said EU would consider military support and visa liberalisation options for Armenia. Baku next day responded to “biased policy” by cancelling bilateral projects and visits to EU. French delivery of 50 armoured vehicles 13 Nov arrived in Armenia, which Azerbaijan same day “strongly” condemned.

Yerevan worried about potential border escalation. As fears of new escalation along border due to stalled talks persisted, Yerevan 18 Nov reported one soldier injured close to Azerbaijani exclave Nakhichevan. Yerevan next day hosted Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit, where Armenian PM Pashinyan reiterated desire for peace but warned Baku was preparing for “new armed aggression”.

In other important developments. Authorities late Nov arrested four leaders of media channels AbzasNews and Kanal 13 TV over alleged cash smuggling and illegal property use; Govt 28 Nov summoned ambassadors of U.S., France and Germany, accusing them of “illegal contributions” to AbzasMedia, which U.S. next day rejected.

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Zaur Shiriyev

Analyst, South Caucasus
Zaur Shiriyev

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