Updated December 28th, 2023 at 18:26 IST
Hope flickers for lasting peace as Azerbaijan and Armenia nudge closer to a deal
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia met face-to-face in St. Petersburg on December 26th.
A glimmer of hope has emerged in the decades-long conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as both sides express cautious optimism about reaching a historic peace agreement. Following Azerbaijan's decisive military offensive in September, which saw the capture of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and the displacement of over 100,000 Armenians, the two countries have been engaged in intensive negotiations to finally turn the page on this bitter chapter, as per a report from The Guardian.
"What is important to understand is that at this crucial stage in negotiations, where apparently we're not that much far away from the final agreement, [is that] we do need a result-oriented exercise," said Elchin Amirbayov, the special ambassador to the Azerbaijani president. "I know that that after three decades of negotiations and without no major result, there is a certain kind of fatigue and also frustration in both parties for how long we will continue just to see to meet each other without any reasonable results."
Leaders of both nations met in Russia on Dec.26th
The recent prisoner exchange on December 13th and the joint statement issued without third-party mediation mark significant milestones in the thawing of relations. Notably, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia met face-to-face in St. Petersburg on December 26th, the first such encounter since the mass exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh. While details of the meeting remain largely under wraps, it signifies a willingness to engage directly at the highest levels.
Here is what else you need to know
Both sides have exchanged seven draft proposals for a short peace agreement. Azerbaijan is now awaiting Armenia's response to its latest revisions. The agreement hinges on mutual recognition of territorial borders, a contentious issue that has fuelled the conflict for years.
Nagorno-Karabakh's internationally recognized status as Azerbaijani territory is further complicated by the geopolitical interests of major powers. Turkey, Russia, Iran, the US, and the EU all vie for influence in this strategically crucial region, home to the proposed "middle corridor" – a vital transportation artery linking China to Europe. Russia maintains a significant military presence in Armenia, adding another layer of complexity to the negotiations.
Despite the lingering challenges, the recent progress between Azerbaijan and Armenia offers a beacon of hope for lasting peace in the South Caucasus. If successful, the agreement could not only stabilize the region but also unlock its vast economic potential, paving the way for a brighter future for both nations.
Published December 28th, 2023 at 18:26 IST