The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been a longstanding issue since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has resulted in two wars, displacements, and significant loss of life. However, recent developments have raised hopes for a potential peace agreement between the two nations. It’s essential to delve into the progress made, the challenges faced, and the prospects for lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In recent times, there have been significant efforts to find a resolution to the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed optimism about a settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and progress has been made towards a settlement based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also acknowledged tangible progress in peace talks held in Washington. Moreover, there is a possibility of signing a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the end of 2023, supported by Russia, the United States, and the European Union.
Despite the progress, several challenges and roadblocks persist. The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave within Azerbaijan, remains a contentious point.
The rights and security of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh need to be addressed to ensure a sustainable peace agreement. Additionally, both countries have different positions on key issues, such as the demarcation of borders and the return of prisoners. These divergent viewpoints pose significant challenges to reaching a comprehensive peace agreement.
International actors, including Russia, the United States, and the European Union, have played important roles in facilitating peace talks and negotiations. Russia, in particular, has acted as a broker in the conflict and has advocated for a leading role in resolving the dispute. However, the United States and the European Union have also supported peace efforts, emphasizing the need for a peaceful environment in the region. The involvement of multiple actors reflects the complexity and geopolitical importance of the conflict.
Despite the challenges, there is hope for lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The recent progress made in peace talks indicates a willingness from both sides to find a resolution.
The upcoming meeting involving European Council President Charles Michel, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is a significant step forward and an opportunity to further advance the peace process.
The conflict has had a profound impact on the political landscape of Azerbaijan and Armenia. In Armenia, the aftermath of the war and the perceived failure to protect Armenian interests led to domestic instability and the possibility of snap elections in early 2021. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, experienced political stability following its territorial gains in the 2020 war but faces ongoing security threats beyond the conflict zone. The resolution of the conflict and the establishment of lasting peace would likely have a transformative effect on the political dynamics in both countries, fostering stability and opening opportunities for regional cooperation.
The protracted conflict has had adverse effects on the economies of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The destruction of infrastructure, displacement of populations, and the diversion of resources to military expenditures have hindered economic development in the region. A peaceful resolution would create favorable conditions for economic recovery, reconstruction, and investment, allowing both countries to unlock their economic potentials. The resolution of the conflict would facilitate the reopening of transport and trade routes, enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation.
The conflict has had significant implications for security in the South Caucasus region. The unresolved tensions and occasional flare-ups pose a risk of renewed hostilities, which could have destabilizing effects beyond Azerbaijan and Armenia. The presence of Russian peacekeeping forces in the region, while providing temporary stability, also raises questions about long-term security arrangements and the potential impact on the geopolitical balance in the area. The international community’s involvement in peace efforts reflects the recognition of the importance of maintaining stability and security in the region.
The Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict has been a complex and protracted issue, but recent developments have shown promising signs of progress towards a peaceful resolution. Despite the challenges, the engagement of international actors and the willingness of both countries to find common ground give hope for a lasting peace agreement. The road to peace may still be long and challenging, but the hope for a better future in the region remains strong.
Fatime Mehdi, Researcher at the University of Siena, Italy.