FACTBOX: Attempts to resolve conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2020

TASS-FACTBOX. On March 19, 2024, at a meeting with residents of the border villages of Tavush region, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinya...


TASS-FACTBOX. On March 19, 2024, at a meeting with residents of the border villages of Tavush region, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that if Yerevan does not fulfill Baku's demands for the transfer of a number of border villages - exclaves of Soviet times, a war may begin.


The beginning of the Karabakh conflict

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia flared up after Nagorno-Karabakh announced its secession from the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988. On September 2, 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR; 1991-2023; not recognized by any UN member state) was proclaimed as part of the USSR, which marked the beginning of an armed confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. During the armed conflict in 1992-1994, Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding areas. According to various estimates, Azerbaijan’s death toll ranged from 4,000 to 11,000, while the Armenian side’s losses totaled from 5,000 to 6,000. The political process of settlement, which was conducted for about 30 years within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group (Russia, the United States and France) and during meetings of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, has not brought results.


Escalation in 2020

In September 2020, active hostilities began again in the region, which were stopped only after the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, concluded an agreement on November 9, 2020. According to the agreements, the parties remained in their occupied positions, a number of regions of Nagorno-Karabakh, including Aghdam, Kelbajar and Lachin, came under the control of Baku, and Russian peacekeepers were stationed along the line of contact and the Lachin corridor. According to the Azerbaijani authorities, about 3,000 servicemen of the country's Armed Forces and 100 civilians became victims of the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020. The Armenian authorities said that about 4,000 people were killed on the Armenian side.


In continuation of the settlement process, a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan took place in Moscow on January 11, 2021. A new joint statement was signed at the meeting, which, in particular, provided for the unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region.


Lawsuits to the International Court of Justice in 2021

On September 16, 2021, Armenia initiated legal proceedings with Azerbaijan in the UN International Court of Justice in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The lawsuit accused Azerbaijan of racial discrimination that lasted for decades and came to the forefront during the escalation of the conflict in Karabakh in September 2020. On September 23 of the same year, Azerbaijan filed a counterclaim alleging that Armenia had committed and continues to commit a number of discriminatory actions in the region against Azerbaijanis based on their national and ethnic origin.


As part of the proceedings, both sides demanded the introduction of interim measures, which are established by the court to prevent an escalation of tension between the parties during the proceedings. These demands were partially satisfied on December 7, 2021. The International Court of Justice of the United Nations demanded that Azerbaijan and Armenia prevent incitement to racial hatred as an interim measure for the duration of the proceedings on the merits. According to the verdict, both sides should refrain from actions that could aggravate or deepen disagreements or complicate the resolution of the dispute. In addition, two interim measures relate exclusively to Azerbaijan, which must "protect from violence all persons captured during the 2020 conflict who remain in custody and ensure their safety and equality before the law," and take all necessary measures to prevent acts of vandalism against the Armenian cultural heritage.


Proposals for border delimitation and a peace treaty

On November 26, 2021, at the talks in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to take steps to increase the level of stability and security on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border and stipulated the need to create a bilateral commission on the delimitation of the border with its subsequent demarcation.


On March 10, 2022, Baku, through the mediators of the OSCE Minsk Group, sent proposals to Yerevan on concluding a peace agreement. The proposals included mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two states, confirmation of the absence of territorial claims against each other and the obligation not to present them in the future, renunciation of threats of the use of force, delimitation and demarcation of borders, establishment of diplomatic relations, opening of transport and other communications and fostering cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.


On March 14, 2022, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced that the republic had responded to Azerbaijan's proposals and appealed to the OSCE Minsk Group to organize negotiations on signing a peace agreement. On March 31, Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that the principle of mutual recognition of the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of the two countries is acceptable for Armenia. However, he stressed that the problem of the Armenian population of the Karabakh region should be solved "in the context of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement," while Azerbaijan, according to the head of the Armenian government, is trying to solve the Karabakh issue by deporting Armenians living there.


On April 6, 2022, in Brussels, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan held a meeting mediated by the head of the European Council Charles Michel. As a result of the talks, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia instructed the foreign ministers of their countries to begin preparations for negotiations on a peace treaty. In addition, an agreement was reached to establish a joint commission on border delimitation by the end of April this year.


On April 13, 2022, Nikol Pashinyan, speaking in the Armenian parliament, said that "Armenia has never had territorial claims against Azerbaijan, and the Karabakh issue is not a territorial issue, but a matter of law."


Escalation of the conflict in September 2022

Despite the preparations for the conclusion of a peace treaty, Armenia and Azerbaijan regularly continued to accuse each other of violating the ceasefire on the border of the two countries. A new serious escalation of the conflict occurred on September 13-14, 2022. The Armenian Security Council stated that 207 people were killed and missing as a result. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan reported 80 dead Azerbaijani servicemen. On September 13, Yerevan appealed to Russia, as well as to the CSTO, of which Armenia is a member, with a request for military assistance. The CSTO has decided to resolve the situation through diplomatic means. The organization's mission was sent to Armenia.


A meeting in Prague in 2022 and a statement on mutual recognition of territorial integrity

On October 6, 2022 in Prague (the Czech Republic), following a meeting with the participation of the head of the European Council Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev reaffirmed their countries' commitment to the UN Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991, through which both sides recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty. According to the declaration, Armenia recognizes the territory of Azerbaijan for 86,600 square kilometers, which includes Karabakh, and Azerbaijan recognizes the territory of Armenia for 29,800 square kilometers.


Continuation of the discussion on signing peace treaty

On October 27, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the plenary session of the Valdai International Discussion Club that Russia supports the idea of concluding a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, Vladimir Putin recalled that Moscow had previously offered Yerevan to retain control over two of the seven districts for communication with Nagorno-Karabakh, and transfer the remaining five to Azerbaijan. On October 28, Nikol Pashinyan wrote on his Twitter microblog that Armenia agrees to establish interstate relations with Azerbaijan according to the principles proposed by Russia.


On October 31, 2022, during a trilateral meeting in Sochi, Vladimir Putin, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan agreed on a joint statement in which Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to refrain from the use of force and the threat of its use, and also stressed their commitment to observing previously reached agreements and the importance of preparing a peace treaty between the countries.


On December 22, 2022, Nikol Pashinyan announced at a government meeting that Armenia had submitted its proposals for a peace agreement to Azerbaijan, on the basis of which Yerevan was ready to sign the treaty.


Further discussion of the peace agreement

On May 14, 2023, Pashinyan and Aliyev held talks in Brussels with the participation of the head of the European Council, Charles Michel. According to Michel, during the meeting, Aliyev and Pashinyan stated that they respect the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan in accordance with the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991. In addition, the leaders of the republics agreed to resume dialogue on border delimitation.


On May 17, 2023, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed at the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik that Armenia recognizes the sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its borders on the territory of 86,600 square kilometers, which includes Karabakh.


On May 25, 2023, at the EAEU summit in Moscow, Pashinyan confirmed that Yerevan and Baku had agreed on mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of the two countries.


On May 28, 2023, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed the opinion that Baku and Yerevan could sign a peace treaty in the near future if the Armenian side "does not change its position again." In turn, Nikol Pashinyan, speaking in the Armenian parliament on May 29, said that the parties have not yet reached an agreement on the terms of the agreement.


Conflict in December 2022 over the Lachin corridor

In December 2022, Yerevan stated that the passage through the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia and Karabakh, was blocked by a group of Azerbaijanis who introduced themselves as "eco-activists". On December 22, the Armenian side refused to participate in the talks scheduled for December 23 in Moscow between the foreign ministers of the three countries on the preparation of a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku. In addition, Pashinyan accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to fulfill their obligations to ensure the security of the Lachin corridor, reached on November 9, 2020.


Armenia has filed several lawsuits with the UN International Court of Justice. On February 22, 2023, the court ruled that Azerbaijan must take all measures to ensure the free movement of people, transport and goods. However, in April 2023, a checkpoint of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan was established at the entrance to the Lachin corridor on the Khakari Bridge over the Akera River. In June 2023, after a shootout between Armenian and Azerbaijani border guards, the Azerbaijani authorities closed the entrance to the Lachin corridor. Official Yerevan announced the blockade of the NKR and a humanitarian disaster.


Baku's anti-terrorist operation in September 2023 and the NKR dissolution

On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Karabakh. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced the start of "anti-terrorist measures of a local nature" and demanded the withdrawal of the Armenian military from the region. Yerevan called the events a "large-scale aggression" and stated that there are no Armenian armed forces in Karabakh. On September 20, with the mediation of Russian peacekeepers, Baku and Khankendi (Stepanakert) reached a ceasefire agreement. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in a message to the people of his country that Armenia "did not participate in [drafting] the signed text on Karabakh and was not a party to the discussions." Subsequently, several rounds of negotiations took place between representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh and the Azerbaijani authorities on the integration of the region into the republic. On September 28, the President of the unrecognized NKR, Samvel Shahramanyan, signed a decree on the dissolution of all state bodies and the termination of the existence of the NKR from January 1, 2024. The Armenian population of Karabakh began to leave the region en masse.


Armenia's claim to the International Court of Justice in 2023

New demands for interim measures were submitted by Armenia to the UN International Court of Justice on September 28, 2023. The petition contains 10 points, among them a requirement for Azerbaijan to refrain from any actions aimed at or affecting the displacement of the remaining ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. In turn, the Azerbaijani side denied all accusations of ethnic cleansing against the civilian population of the region.


On November 17, 2023, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that Azerbaijan must ensure the safety of all people, including Armenians, in Karabakh. The court ruled that the country's authorities must ensure "that people who stayed in Nagorno-Karabakh after September 19 or returned to Nagorno-Karabakh and want to stay there do not use force or intimidate them." The document also obliges Azerbaijan, in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to protect and preserve all registration data of people and documentation on private property in the region. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said Baku "took note" of the court's decision.


Meeting in Granada in 2023

In October 2023, a meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the participation of the EU, Germany and France was to be held in Granada (Spain) on the sidelines of the summit of the European Political Community. The parties planned to sign a declaration that would form the basis for official mutual recognition of territorial integrity. However, Ilham Aliyev refused to participate in the meeting unless Turkey was involved in the negotiations.


As a result, only Nikol Pashinyan came to Granada. On October 5, he signed a declaration recognizing the area of Azerbaijan at 86,600 square kilometers, including Karabakh.


Further steps to prepare a peace treaty

The parties have repeatedly stated their readiness for negotiations, including with the participation of mediators, and offered their initiatives to conclude a peace agreement. Thus, on November 21, 2023, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced that Yerevan had handed over to Baku the sixth package of proposals for a peace treaty. On December 25, Azerbaijan sent its response to Armenia.


Earlier, in the autumn of 2023, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that in order to achieve a peace treaty, it is necessary for Baku and Yerevan to observe three basic principles of settlement. The first is the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the understanding that the territory of Armenia is 29,800 square kilometers, and Azerbaijan is 86,600 square kilometers. The second principle is the delimitation of borders according to the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991. At the same time, Pashinyan added that "there is a certain agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that maps of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the former USSR of 1974-1990 should be used to delimit the border." The third principle of peace, according to the Armenian Prime Minister, is that regional communications should be reopened based on the principles of sovereignty, jurisdiction, reciprocity and equality of countries.


On December 7, 2023, the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia and the Administration of the President of Azerbaijan issued a joint statement and reported that Yerevan and Baku confirm their intention to settle relations and conclude a peace treaty based on respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Azerbaijan released 32 Armenian servicemen as a sign of goodwill, and Armenia released 2 Azerbaijani servicemen. In addition, on the same day, Yerevan, as a gesture of goodwill, rejected in favor of Azerbaijan the candidacy of its country for the November 2024 elections. At the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Baku supported Armenia's candidacy for membership in the UNFCCC Bureau.


On December 26, 2023, during the informal summit of CIS leaders in St. Petersburg, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held a brief meeting. According to the Armenpress news agency, the leaders of the two countries "discussed the peace agenda."


Problems of delimitation and border demarcation

By March 2024, the commissions for the delimitation of the state border established in Azerbaijan and Armenia had already held seven meetings, the last of which took place on March 7 at the border of the two countries.


On March 9, 2024, Baku demanded the return of four Soviet-era exclave villages by Armenia, which came under Armenian control in the 1990s. These are Baganis Ayrim, Ashaghi Askipara, Kheirimli and Gizilhajili. A message from the service of Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev, who heads his country's commission on border delimitation, indicates that the affiliation of these villages to Azerbaijan is "indisputable." The report also notes that as part of the border delimitation process, the issue of the liberation of four more exclave villages - Yukhari Askipara, Sofulu, Barkhudarly and Kyarki will be resolved. At the same time, the service of the Deputy Prime Minister called the information disseminated by the Armenian media about the occupation of 31 Armenian villages on the border by Azerbaijan unreliable.


On March 18, 2024, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, at a meeting with residents of the border village of Voskepar, announced the beginning of the practical stage of delimitation and demarcation of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to him, this means that it is necessary to clarify where the Armenian border actually runs. Pashinyan also noted that Baku talks about 4 problem villages, and the Armenian side notes the presence of problems in 31 settlements.


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Local Glob: FACTBOX: Attempts to resolve conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2020
FACTBOX: Attempts to resolve conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2020
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