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 »
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 »
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 »
Armenia’s new prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, sensibly avoided foreign policy issues during his protest campaign. As his new government takes office, this will be a harder balancing act, nowhere more so than with the part-foreign, part-domestic issue of Karabakh. He is right to be wary: in the 1990s the conflict in Karabakh was the undoing of several leaders on both sides of the divide.
Recent history has seen surges of public euphoria on both sides. Azerbaijan’s army, in the ‘four-day war’ of 2–5 April 2016, reclaimed occupied territory for the first time since 1994. Armenia’s Velvet Revolution has fired up Armenians to believe that anything is possible.… Seguir leyendo »
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 »
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 »
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 last year has demonstrated the resilience of Armenian-Azerbaijani deadlock in resisting movement in the direction of either war or peace. On 2 April it will be one year since a major escalation, widely referred to as the four-day ‘war’, that claimed more than 200 lives. Yet while pundits warned plausibly of contagion, the violence quickly subsided as Moscow brokered a ceasefire.
A few weeks later at talks in Vienna brokered by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan gave their formal assent to long called for confidence building measures. … Seguir leyendo »
As Yemen’s unremitting conflict continues to drive a nation-wide humanitarian crisis, there is an ever-increasing need to quell hostilities. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rebuild the credibility of the UN-sponsored talks in order to find a durable ceasefire and work toward a political settlement within Yemen: Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe; A Failing State.
On top of major challenges, including the spillover from the war in Syria, Islamic State terrorism and increasingly heavy-handed governance, Turkey’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) also reignited last year. … Seguir leyendo »
Similar to other Eurasian regional groupings, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an alliance of inconvenience at best. But for Armenia, which seeks a security umbrella – and for the South Caucasus region in general – the failure of the CSTO has broader repercussions. The organization’s failure to act as a coherent military bloc might become the failure to prevent the next war in the Caucasus.
The contradictions inherent in the CSTO were brought to light in December, when the member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan – failed to agree on a secretary general to replace the Russia incumbent, Nikolay Bordyuzha.… Seguir leyendo »
The forward trenches in the hills just beyond the abandoned village of Talish, in Nagorno-Karabakh, are reminiscent of World War I: long, endless, slits in the ground, the dirt buttressed by wood, with periodic firing posts and dugouts. Stacked tires packed with dirt stand in for sandbags, but otherwise it looks like the Western Front 100 years ago. Behind the trenches, alongside the road, tanks are angled to counterattack.
On the first day of September, the sky cerulean, Capt. Gegham Grigoryan, 32, stood with me and pointed toward the northeast — toward Azerbaijan and the minefield and buffer zone less than a mile away.… Seguir leyendo »
Il y a quelques semaines le conflit du Haut-Karabagh s’est réveillé, le temps de prélever en quelques jours un tribut d’une centaine de morts, principalement militaires. Puis il a disparu à nouveau de l’actualité, mais pas des préoccupations de certains analystes qui, comme Jacques Attali, y décèlent le détonateur possible d’une troisième guerre mondiale parce qu’il se superpose à la ligne de haute tension russo-turque.
Pour l’opinion internationale, c’est plutôt l’incompréhension qui domine. Comment peut-on se battre, aux portes de l’Europe et au XXIe siècle, pour une zone enclavée de 4000 km carrés ? Comment prendre au sérieux une guerre picrocholine ?… Seguir leyendo »
After the end of the ‘four-day war’− a brief but violent outbreak of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorny Karabakh − there are muted hopes for a renewal of peace negotiations. This bodes poorly for Baku – despite Azerbaijan’s military advantage over Armenia, it has increasingly limited diplomatic choices.
Azerbaijan’s offensive was clearly the result of planning and training but it was not a blitzkrieg aimed at liberating territories under Armenian occupation – once the mission was completed, Azerbaijan announced a unilateral truce. Baku gambled on psychological factors such as a demonstration of the technological advancement of its armed forces.… Seguir leyendo »
With its early-April offensive against Nagorny Karabakh, Azerbaijan might have sought to prove its long-standing rhetoric that it can take lands by force. Gaining control over some territories would allow Baku to speak from a position of strength at the peace talks, whose format and principles it is unhappy with.
With over 200 fatalities on both sides, the flare-up reportedly ceased upon Azerbaijan’s request and with Russia’s brokering, when a Karabakhi counter-offensive was underway and most positions that changed hands were restored. The Russian diplomatic intervention prevented the army of Nagorny Karabakh from shifting the Line of Contact beyond its established borders.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s outbreak of Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting along the Line of Contact (LOC) has yet again demonstrated that preserving the status quo – a self-regulated ceasefire and a defunct political process – is unviable. Azerbaijan’s exasperation, and capacity to challenge the status quo, has been made clear once again. New ceasefire support infrastructure is essential, but this alone is insufficient. It needs to be coupled with a re-activated political process to re-validate politics over frontline violence.
Components of an agreement
Diplomats leading the shuttle diplomacy effort have affirmed that the components of an agreement are in place. This is true: for nearly a decade the OSCE Minsk Group, the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents and their foreign ministers have discussed the Madrid Principles, presented in 2007.… Seguir leyendo »
Not everyone can find the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan have resumed, on the map. Yet the ripple effect of the crisis in the hinterlands of the Caucasus can be felt far and wide.
That kind of connectivity was hardly the case 25 years ago, when the conflict started. For the great powers of East and West, the 1989-1994 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan looked not like a geopolitical challenge but a humanitarian catastrophe: 30,000 people died and 1 million were displaced in the fight over a meager 4,400 sq. km (roughly twice the size of Tokyo).… Seguir leyendo »
For almost three decades, the most dangerous unresolved conflict in wider Europe has lain in the mountains of the South Caucasus, in a small territory known as Nagorno-Karabakh. In the late 1980s, the region confounded the last Soviet leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev. In the early 1990s, the conflict there created more than a million refugees and killed around 20,000 people. In 1994, after Armenia defeated Azerbaijan in a fight over the territory, the two countries signed a truce — but no peace agreement.
Nagorno-Karabakh erupted again last weekend. It seems one of the players — most likely Azerbaijan — decided to change the facts on the ground.… Seguir leyendo »
For three days a long-feared large-scale escalation between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has raged around the disputed territory of Nagorny Karabakh. For the first time since 1994 slivers of territory have changed hands. Reports from the ground remain confused and contradictory, but at least 30 combatant and two civilian fatalities are confirmed. What is certain is that the conflict parties have abandoned their self-regulated ceasefire, and the South Caucasus is today suspended in a security vacuum.
Escalation of violence
Large-scale clashes began in the early hours of 2 April in the northern, north-eastern and south-eastern zones of the Line of Contact (LOC), a 160-mile long line that for Armenians is a heavily fortified security belt and for Azerbaijanis a frontline against occupying forces.… Seguir leyendo »