Region

South Caucasus

Stories under this heading cover the South Caucasus – a region encompassing Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as the unrecognised entities of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

For those interested specifically in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and events and developments in and around Nagorno-Karabakh following the 2020 44-day war, check out our sister page, KarabakhSpace.eu.

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Opinion
Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

On May 22, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Brussels with the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel to discuss the peace process. It is worth noting that since the beginning of this year, the representatives of the two South Caucasian republics have met exclusively via the mediation of the EU, while the only Russia-mediated meeting – that of the foreign ministers held on May 12 –  took place on the sidelines of another major event and brought about no novelty in the negotiations. The Brussels summit, however, delivered some very important outcomes which, if implemented, will constitute a critical breakthrough in the peace process. The quick implementation of some of the issues agreed by president Aliyev and prime minister Pashinyan at their meeting in Brussels, can be described as truly historic, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. "But the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time, and necessitate an agreement not only between Baku and Yerevan, but also between Moscow and Brussels", he adds.
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News
South Ossetia gets a young leader, but his message is old and rusty

South Ossetia gets a young leader, but his message is old and rusty

It was a piece of surreal political theatre of the sort that have become increasingly popular with the choreographers of the Kremlin. On Tuesday (24 May ) the liliputian self-declared Republic of South Ossetia, a de facto Russian protectorate, got a new president. Alan Gagloev was sworn-in at the theatre on Tskhinvali's main square. The choreography was perfect: a military guard of honour, a swearing in ceremony, and delegations of "foreign countries", except they represented other self declared entities such as Abkhazia, Lugansk, Donetsk, Nagorno-Karabakh etc. Most of the world still recognise South Ossetia as part of Georgia. Gagloev came to power unexpectedly, having defeated the incumbent Anatoly Bibilov in elections on May 17. The number of people who voted for him was 16,134 (representing 56.09% of the electorate). Bibilov left his successor a time bomb, due to go off on 17 July, in the form of a referendum calling for South Ossetia's unification with Russia. The Kremlin does not seem to be impressed. Gagloev made no reference to the referendum in his inauguration speech today, but he did heap praise on Russia and promised eternal friendship.

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News
Pashinyan: "The peace agenda has no alternative for us, despite all the difficulties and hardships"

Pashinyan: "The peace agenda has no alternative for us, despite all the difficulties and hardships"

In a historic speech in front of parliament, Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday (13 April) analysed the options in front of Armenia as it prepares to enter into negotiations with Azerbaijan on the signing of a peace agreement. In his speech Pashinyan spoke at length and in detail about the dilemmas he faced before the 44 day Karabakh war as to whether or not to make concessions and return territories to Azerbaijan. Pashinyan admitted that his mistake was not to recognise the inevitability of doing so, and to having, like previous Armenian leaders, succumbed to the Armenian narrative of the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh. In his speech Pashinyan hinted that Armenia may now be ready to recognise the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan as had been requested by Azerbaijan as a precondition for starting the negotiations on a peace treaty, saying that de jure it had done so in 1992. EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, in a tweet described the speech of the Armenian prime minister as "forward looking". He added that "many challenges remain on the road to a comprehensive settlement but it is important to move forward". Klaar added that Armenia has the EU's support in the search for just peace.
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Opinion
Opinion: A game-changing Aliyev-Pashinyan-Michel summit in Brussels

Opinion: A game-changing Aliyev-Pashinyan-Michel summit in Brussels

This week's summit of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, mediated by European Council president Charles Michel, marks a growing mediating role for the EU, something which is welcomed by both Baku and Yerevan, writes Vasif Husseynov in this op-ed. There are now two separate tracks in the peace process, one led by Brussels, the other by Moscow. So far they are complimentary, and should remain so, he argues
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News
Armenian and Azerbaijani expert group proposes 30 confidence-building measures to support regional peace

Armenian and Azerbaijani expert group proposes 30 confidence-building measures to support regional peace

The Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani Liaison Group on confidence-building measures in support of lasting peace in the South Caucasus has published its report in which it proposes 30 short, medium and long term measures in support of ongoing efforts to establish peace in the region. In their report, "The South Caucasus from war to peace: 30 measures between now and 2030"  the members of the Liaison Group say that Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenians and Azerbaijanis, need to build the future based on mutual trust and confidence.
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News
The process for negotiating a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan has started

The process for negotiating a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan has started

After four hours of intensive discussions in Brussels on Wednesday evening  (6 April), European Council president Charles Michel announced that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to instruct their foreign ministers to start work on the preparation of a peace treaty, which would address all necessary issues. "The process has started. It started tonight", president Michel told journalists. Michel earlier met separately with Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev before the three convened for their meeting. Michel described the meeting as "excellent and very productive".
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Brussels hosts important discussions between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan

Brussels hosts important discussions between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev, will today meet in Brussels together with the president of the European Council, Charles Michel. The trilateral meeting is taking place at a critical moment for the future of the South Caucasus as Armenia and Azerbaijan seek ways to build peace between them following the 44 Day Karabakh war in the autumn of 2020. It is taking place in the shadow of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has caused the bbiggest crisis on the European continent since World War II. Michel hosted a previous meeting with Aliyev and Pashinyan on 14 December 2021, and a new format appears to be emerging for contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Observers are hesitant to call it a peace process yet, but the importance of the talks is considerable. This was highlighted yesterday when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to stress the US support for the talks. In Brussels Michel is expected to urge Pashinyan and Aliyev, with who he has built a strong personal rapport over the last year, to work together to de-escalate tensions on the border, move forward with the process of agreeing the terms of a peace agreement, and implement confidence and security building measures to support their work and help build trust at the political, military and societal levels.
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Opinion
Opinion: A resumption of the Iran nuclear deal is also good for Armenia

Opinion: A resumption of the Iran nuclear deal is also good for Armenia

Reports from Vienna suggest that Iran and the world powers are close to agreeing on restoring the Iran Nuclear Deal. For a moment it appeared that the negotiations were going to get entangled in the current Ukraine crisis, but it appears that Iran has dissuaded Russia from doing so. In this op-ed for commonspace.eu Benyamin Poghosyan says a deal would be good for neighbouring countries like Armenia who are keen to exploit trade opportunities with Iran.
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Interview
In an interview with commonspace.eu Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan describes EU-Armenia relations as "very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic"

In an interview with commonspace.eu Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan describes EU-Armenia relations as "very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic"

In November of last year Paruyr Hovhannisyan was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia with responsibility for relations with the European Union. This week he was in Brussels where he had meetings with officials from the EU institutions. Commonspace.eu spoke with the Deputy Foreign Minister on the current state of Armenia-EU relations and prospects for the future. Hovhannissian described relations as very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic.
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News
Pashinyan and Aliyev will meet in Brussels next week

Pashinyan and Aliyev will meet in Brussels next week

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia will meet in Brussels on 6 April at the invitation of European Council president Charles Michel. The three leaders will review developments since their last meeting on 14 December 2021. In preparation of the leaders' meeting, the European Union on Wednesday (30 March) hosted a meeting of high-level officials from Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels to advance joint efforts to find solutions to a range of issues between both countries.   A statement posted on the website of the European External Action Service said, "the meeting between Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Grigoryan, and Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev, was facilitated by EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar."
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Opinion
Opinion: The people of the South Caucasus deserve a better and more peaceful future

Opinion: The people of the South Caucasus deserve a better and more peaceful future

Ahmad Alili and Stepan Grigoryan are members of a Joint Liaison Group of Armenian and Azerbaijani experts currently finalising a report on how confidence-building measures can support lasting peace in the South Caucasus. In this jointly written paper they say that the crisis in Ukraine has reminded the people of the South Caucasus of the horrors of war. “In the South Caucasus people have suffered enough from violent conflict. They deserve a better and more peaceful future, and all of us should contribute to that objective”, they write in this opinion paper.