Azerbaiyán

A man shows a piece of shrapnel after attacks carried out by the Armenian army at Dondar Kuscu village near Tovuz, Azerbaijan. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Although the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is focused on the Line of Contact around Nagorny Karabakh, a new – and significant – outbreak of violence has happened some 300 kilometres away on high ground along the de jure Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

Although not a first, violence in this area has generally been contained by the proximity of major transport and infrastructure arteries, and of civilian populations on both sides of the border. Plus, unlike in Nagorny Karabakh, the extended deterrents conferred by Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and bilateral agreements with Russia are also – theoretically at least – in force.…  Seguir leyendo »

World War II veteran Ivan Timchenko, 103, with his granddaughter in Baku, Azerbaijan during the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Eighteen months on from a reported agreement by Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers to prepare their populations for peace, both states have in reality remained largely preoccupied with consolidating domestic power due to enduring socio-economic frustration and populations radicalized by the ‘four-day war’ back in 2016.

A rapidly evolving international context since then has been dominated by regional tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East, and between the United States and Iran. And the COVID-19 pandemic now presents both Yerevan and Baku with new threats and problems.

Armenia’s measures to contain the virus were roundly criticised as ‘too little, too late’, while the de facto authorities in Nagorny Karabakh were rebuked by many in civil society for pressing ahead with elections despite risks to public health.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijan professional cyclists resume training after being left without access to their usual training facilities due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia already operate within a fractured region, with large migrant populations abroad, and assume varying degrees of responsibility for the region’s separatist entities – Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh – whose long-term isolation makes them highly vulnerable to the pandemic.

All three South Caucasus states reported their first cases early – between February 26 and March 1 – and started responding shortly after. And the form and success of their response has been defined by the work each had put into developing their political, healthcare and economic institutions over the long term, and has put their ability to protect their citizens into stark relief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijanis vote Sunday in a snap election that resulted from a sudden political housecleaning last fall. In October, President Ilham Aliyev dismissed his chief of staff, Ramiz Mehdiyev, and replaced a set of top officials linked to Mehdiyev’s “old guard” with younger technocrats. Azerbaijan’s National Assembly then agreed to dissolve the legislature and hold new elections on Feb. 9.

This was big news in an authoritarian regime where a single leader and his circle of close associates have structured the country’s politics for the past 16 years. Here’s what you need to know.

1. This could be a power play

Some analysts see the political shake-up as the sign of the demise of Azerbaijan’s old guard — and a consolidation of power within the family of first lady and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva (nee Pashayeva).…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev meets with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Vienna on 29 March. Photo: Getty Images.

At their first official summit on 29 March, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan exchanged views on several key issues relating to the settlement process and ‘ideas of substance’. They committed themselves to maintaining the ceasefire, developing humanitarian measures and the continuation of direct dialogue. This follows on from the surprising announcement by the OSCE Minsk Group in January that Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov had agreed on the necessity of preparing their peoples for peace.

These outcomes sustain a positive outlook for the long-stagnant peace talks. Leadership rapport is of course crucial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijani people stage a protest against Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijan's territory Nagorno-Karabakh at the Mehsul stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29 September 2018. Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency

A series of direct contacts between Azerbaijan and Armenia have brought hope to the two countries’ decades-long impasse over Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict that began as the Soviet Union collapsed. But while these meetings, on the heels of a change in power in the Armenian capital, bring new dynamism, much has to be done before true progress is possible.

The Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, last met in person on 22 January 2019 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, their third meeting since the latter came to power in Yerevan last April. Their January discussion, held without mediators, came just six days after the two countries’ foreign ministers met in Paris, where they agreed to take concrete measures to prepare their populations for peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev and Armenia's prime minister Nikol Pashinyan ahead of a CIS Heads of State Council meeting in September 2018. Photo: Getty Images.

Is the long-stagnant Armenia–Azerbaijan peace process finally moving forward? The 16 January meeting in Paris between foreign ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was the fourth in nine months. It followed measures that in recent months have defused the considerable tensions of the last few years. These include the establishment of an ‘operative channel’ between the armed forces deployed along the Line of Contact and a sustained reduction in the number of ceasefire violations.

Against this backdrop, the press statement issued on 16 January by the OSCE’s Minsk Group, the international body mediating between Armenia and Azerbaijan, was remarkably positive. Noting the stabilization of the political environment around the negotiations, it also stated that Mammadyarov and Mnatsakanyan had ‘agreed upon the necessity of taking concrete measures to prepare the populations for peace’.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan campaigning for his political alliance “My Step” in his hometown Ijevan, about 20 kilometres from frontline trenches along the border with Azerbaijan. CRISISGROUP/Olesya Vartanyan

One of the windows in Sonya Matinyan’s home is filled in with bricks. The glass of the other is splintered by a rifle bullet. The roof has taken a few missile hits and leaking water has stained the ceilings in the interior. But, unusually, the 57-year-old Armenian is staying home this winter.

That’s because things are changing for the better in Berkaber, on Armenia’s north-eastern border with Azerbaijan. No gunfire has sounded here in the region of Tavush for almost two months, a welcome change from clashes that in the past two winters drove inhabitants into fortified cellars or to distant relatives’ homes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Je m’appelle Alexandre Lapshin. Je suis un blogueur globe-trotteur qui a visité plus de cent trente pays. Je ne m’intéresse pas à la politique mais j’aime la paix, la nature, l’histoire, les jolies femmes et la bonne chère. Même dans mes pires cauchemars, je n’aurais pu imaginer être victime d’un jeu politique entre deux dictateurs brutaux : l’ancien président des fermes collectives soviétiques – le président biélorusse Alexandre Loukachenko et l’homme fort d’Azerbaïdjan, Ilham Aliev, qui a hérité du pouvoir de son père, comme dans les anciens sultanats arabes décrits par le conte des « Mille et une nuits ».

Le 15 décembre 2016, lors d’un voyage dans l’ex-URSS, j’ai été soudainement arrêté par la police au Belarus.…  Seguir leyendo »

The springtime political upheaval in Armenia stunned neighbouring governments – not least that of Azerbaijan. Since 23 April, when mass demonstrations impelled Armenia’s long-time leader Serzh Sargsyan to resign, the Azerbaijani authorities have struggled to understand the implications for the three-decade-long conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Prior to Armenia’s “velvet revolution”, observers in the Azerbaijani capital Baku believed Sargsyan would continue indefinitely as prime minister. At the outset of the anti-Sargsyan unrest, the demonstrations were small, and Azerbaijanis remained doubtful that the unrest would force a change in Armenian politics. They drew comparisons to “electric Yerevan” – the 2015 protests in the Armenian capital against electricity rate hikes.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Arménie, la ligne rouge n’a pas été franchie. Mais l’Azerbaïdjan franchira-t-il la ligne de démarcation ? En Arménie, depuis le 13 avril, tout au long du mouvement #Im Kayle (ma démarche), initié par Nikol Pachinian contre le gouvernement de Serge Sarkissian et favorable à un changement de pouvoir, une question circule dans toutes les têtes : le conflit du Haut-Karabakh, province arménienne rattachée à l’Azerbaïdjan en 1921 et théâtre d’une guerre entre Arméniens et Azerbaïdjanais (1990-1994) – dont le règlement de paix est placé sous l’égide du Groupe de Minsk de l’OSCE (Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe) coprésidé par la France, les Etats-Unis et la Russie – va-t-il dégénérer ?…  Seguir leyendo »

Politics and Security Hold Each Other Hostage in Nagorno-Karabakh

Sniper fire can hit almost every open-air spot in Nerkin Karmiraghbyur, an Armenian village in the Tavush region on the border with Azerbaijan. Nargiza, who runs a well-stocked shop out of an abandoned railway coach in the village centre, laments the locals’ fate: “We never feel safe. We hear shooting at night, and fear it during the day. My neighbours have stopped cultivating their vineyards. They were being shot at while at work.”

Nargiza means “daffodil”. It’s a common name in Azerbaijan and other Muslim cultures, but not in her native Armenia, especially since the start of the three-decade-long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.…  Seguir leyendo »

After 21 years of negotiations, the littoral countries of the Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – are apparently close to agreeing the sea’s legal status. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the text of a convention on delimitation was settled at a December meeting with his four counterparts. According to Lavrov, the Caspian presidents will meet in the first half of 2018 in Astana to finally sign.

Russia has been trying a change of tack. Rather than carrying out unwieldy five-sided negotiations, President Vladimir Putin now seems to be favouring bilateral and trilateral approaches. This may be yielding results beyond mere carving up of the sea: Russia has had more effective and flexible separated dialogue with neighbouring countries, based on common interests with each of them, but which are not necessarily shared by all five countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

For almost three months now, there has been an astonishing lull along the Karabakh frontline. Instead of grenade launchers, guided missiles, drones, and guns, the sound of relatively less harmful small arms has been heard. For the first time since the clash of April 2016, both sides have put their weapons aside to take a breather before the long-awaited meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

There have been no negotiations at the presidential level for more than a year. All prior requests to resume meetings by international mediators yielded no results. Instead of conversing at the negotiation table, the leaders occasionally donned military uniforms, and set out with binoculars to examine each other’s military positions.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the last two weeks of September, Azerbaijani police launched a violent campaign of “arresting and torturing men presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women,” according to Human Rights Watch and local advocacy organizations. On Oct. 2, by all accounts, police released all the detainees, officially acknowledging that 83 had been detained. Local advocacy organizations claim that beatings, electroshock, coercion, blackmail and other abuses were carried out based entirely on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Azerbaijan is “the worst place to be gay in Europe,” the 2015 and 2016 Rainbow Europe reports by ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) concluded.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dans mon pays, le journalisme est un crime. Les chiffres le montrent : sur les 158 prisonniers politiques actuellement détenus en Azerbaïdjan, 10 sont des journalistes. La semaine dernière, la dernière agence de presse indépendante, Turan, a cessé son activité. Braver cet interdit se paie le prix fort. On m’a fait chanter à coups de vidéos filmées à mon insu par les services secrets dans l’intimité de mon foyer. J’ai été jetée en prison pour une longue liste d’accusations inventées de toutes pièces. Et je ne suis pas la seule.

Le régime azéri a de bonnes raisons de mener une telle répression.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenia

Anahit Shirinyan

As the world tries to decipher what Trump presidency means for the global world order and security in Europe, the same questions are asked in Armenia. The US continues not to have a clear-cut policy towards the South Caucasus, and Trump’s tenure is unlikely to change this. Instead, Washington’s relations with Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku are likely to remain an undertone to the larger dynamics of US relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as developments in the Middle East. In this context, some potential pitfalls might affect the overall geopolitical environment in which Armenia operates with implications for Armenian foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Southern Gas Corridor, a $45 billion dollar pipeline project delivering gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey, is supposed to start operations by 2020.

But Azerbaijan’s ability to uphold its financial commitments towards the project is under serious pressure from continued low oil prices. The drop in the price of oil was initially treated as temporary by Azerbaijani officials, but has already had a devastating impact on most sectors of the country’s economy, exacerbated by the state’s mismanagement of funds.

Baku has only secured $1.4 billion of the at least $4 billion needed for the Trans-Anatolian pipeline (TANAP), the first part of the route, and needs to secure an additional $2-3 billion for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) which brings the gas to Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

El neodemócrata Evgenii Ambarzumov acuñó en 1992 la expresión «el círculo próximo» para designar a los nuevos Estados que acaban de independizarse con el desplome soviético: el reconocimiento de los mismos no debía oponerse a la defensa de los intereses de Rusia en el espacio de la antigua URSS. Surgió así una voluntad hegemónica en quienes habían lamentado su hundimiento, entre ellos un desconocido, Vladímir Putin. La primera ocasión llegó en 1992, con la guerra que separó de hecho al territorio rusófono, Transnistria, de Moldavia. Más grave aún fue en 1993 una nueva contienda de secesión, de Abjazia contra Georgia: Rusia intervino mediante una «guerra no declarada» (Shevernadze).…  Seguir leyendo »

The room housing refugees in the former Soviet sanatorium just outside Baku was getting a much-needed facelift: new black-and-silver floral wallpaper “to make it more attractive to the future in-laws of my daughter who are not displaced like us”, said Bayram, an Azeri veteran of the 1988-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Bayram remained steadfast in his support for Azerbaijan’s role in last spring’s violent clash with Armenia. “Of course I know what war is and what the consequences can be”, he explained. He pointed to his leg, maimed by artillery fire almost 25 years ago, and to the poor conditions of the refugee shelter where his family has lived for over twenty years.…  Seguir leyendo »