Issue Brief on “Negotiating Stability: Assessing the Complexities of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Process”

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The two Caucasian neighbours, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have been embroiled in a conflict on diplomatic as well as external front leading to two wars spanning over three decades over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Nagorno Karabakh or Artsakh as known to Armenians is a landlocked region in the Caucasus mountains lying within the borders of Azerbaijan. Internationally, the region is recognized as part of Azerbaijan but it has been the home to 120,000 ethnic Armenians.[1] On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive calling it an operation against anti-terrorist activities in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh demanding a “complete withdrawal” of Armenian forces as a condition for peace.[2] Faced with the situation at hand, about one hundred thousand people, nearly 80 percent of the people living in Nagorno Karabakh, fled to Armenia in only one week. This military offensive brought an end to the ethnic Armenian rule in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and Azerbaijan called it the “liberation” of the occupied territories.  Since then, the ties between the two states had become further strained.

However, on 7, December, 2023, Azerbaijan and Armenia issued a joint statement, the very first of its kind, in which the two countries said that they were optimistic about the future and saw a historical chance for the “long-awaited peace”.[3] The statement read , “Following a round of talks between the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, an agreement has been made in taking tangible steps towards building confidence between the two countries.”[4] There was a consensus that it was a ‘historical chance’ to achieve a long awaited peace in the region. It was emphasized by the two sides that on the basis of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, relations will be normalized and peace treaty will be reached.  The statement also appreciated Armenia’s support for Azerbaijan’s bid to host COP29 by withdrawing itself as a candidate.[5] Likewise, Azerbaijan has supported the Armenian candidacy for Eastern European Group COP Bureau membership.

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