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.

Terrorist attack against Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran
At least one security officer was killed and two others injured when a man armed with a Kalashnikov attacked the Azerbaijani Embassy in the Iranian capital, Tehran. The incident happened on Friday morning as the man tried to force his way into the diplomatic mission. Azerbaijan has strongly condemned the attack and criticised Tehran for not protecting its diplomatic mission. The Iranian Ambassador was summoned to the Azerbaijani foreign ministry in Baku and told that the attack was the consequence of a systematic anti-Azerbaijan campaign. There have been outbursts of anti-Azerbaijani sentiment in some sections of the Iranian media which appear to have the blessing of at least some elements of the Iranian regime. There has been widespread condemnation of the attack by the international community, including the EU, the US and many European and Middle East governments.  commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran is the latest in a series of unfriendly or hostile acts towards Azerbaijan originating from Tehran that seem to be encouraged by at least some elements of the Iranian Shia clerical regime.
dennis2020 Fri, 01/27/2023 - 13:27 Deployment of the EU monitoring mission to Armenia: A view from Azerbaijan

On January 23, the Council of the European Union (EU) agreed to establish a civilian monitoring mission in Armenia’s border areas in order to “ensure an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan”. The deployment of the mission has caused mixed reactions in the two countries and frustrated Russia, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu.

patrickn97 Thu, 01/26/2023 - 14:53

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News
Blinken hosts Armenian and Azerbaijan counterparts for talks about peace

Blinken hosts Armenian and Azerbaijan counterparts for talks about peace

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Monday hosted at Blair House in Washington DC, talks with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan and foreign minister Bayramov. The ministers exchanged views on the elements of a possible peace agreement, noting that there were a number of outstanding issues. Both sides reaffirmed the commitments made by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia at the meetings held on October 6 in Prague and October 31 in Sochi. Bayramov and Mirzoyan also agreed to speed up negotiations and hold another meeting in the coming weeks. Both ministers thanked the American side for hosting the peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Monday Commentary: Clearing the South Caucasus of landmines must remain a priority
Making the South Caucasus free from landmines and other explosive remnants of war must remain a priority. "2023 should be a turning point in the efforts in this direction", writes Dennis Sammut in this week's Monday commentary on commonspace.eu. More awareness of the problem within the three countries, more commitment and better leadership by the international community, and increased understanding of the provisions of the 'Ottawa convention' are important steps that need to be taken. In the meantime the issue of landmines and other explosive remnants of war should not be instrumentalised for short-term political gain. This is everyone's problem and a regional approach is the best way to tackle it going forward. The launch of this year's regional campaign 'Landmine Free South Caucasus' on 30 November should help focus attention on these issues.
dennis2020 Mon, 11/07/2022 - 07:02
Editor's choice
Interview
Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Dr Stepan Grigoryan, the Chairman of the Board of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, is a respected analyst and opinion-shaper in Yerevan who has over many years been a moderate voice in what has often been a toxic inter-Armenian debate on the prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the wider region. He spoke to commonspace.eu in Tbilisi on 22 October 2022 about the current state of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, recent events surrounding it, and prospects for the future. Speaking about the current political situation in Armenia Stepan Grigoryan said "We have a strong civil society, active NGOs and active experts, and they act like pillars of independence in Armenia. And this civil society also criticises Nikol Pashinyan, but they are trying to help him. Yes, I myself am sometimes not happy with what Nikol Pashinyan is doing, but I try to help him with my advice, with my publications, with my speeches. So in Armenia one should not only look at the political field - which is polarised - but civil society too. We shouldn’t think that we have an ideal government, they have made many mistakes, but they really want peace."
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Opinion
Opinion: Russia's muted comeback to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

Opinion: Russia's muted comeback to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

"After a long pause, on October 31, Russia brought together the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in a meeting mediated by President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi. Over the past year, ever since the November 26, 2021 summit in Sochi, Russia’s initiatives  in support of a peace process between the two South Caucasus republics did not  give results, while the major mediating role in the process was taken over by the European Union", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. The document shared following the trilateral meeting did not contain any provisions concerning critical issues such as the future of Nagorno-Karabakh or the Russian peacekeeping force in the region. "How will the the peace talks unfold in the immediate future, especially considering that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are supposed to meet in Brussels this month in accordance with the results of August 31 summit", asks Vasif Huseynov.
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News
In Sochi, leaders affirm committment to Prague principles but leave space for a role for Russia

In Sochi, leaders affirm committment to Prague principles but leave space for a role for Russia

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, on Monday (31 October) hosted in Sochi the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and president Ilham Aliyev. Putin met separately with the two leaders, before hosting a two-hour trilateral meeting to discuss the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. The highly choreographed meetings in the grand settings of the Kremlin's summer residence in Sochi did not, it seems, result in the expectations that the Russian leader had of the sessions. After concluding the discussions only Putin made press comments, saying that they could not agree on many issues, but that he still felt that the meeting was "useful". The Russian president said that many elements that had been included in the draft of the statement prepared by the experts had to be deleted. In the joint written statement eventually issued at the end of the meeting, the three leaders touched upon the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, and the role of Russia. The statement appeared to endorse most of what was included in the Prague statement of 6 October 2022 between the president of the European Council, the president of France and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The statement appeared to give a nod to a continuing Russian military force in Nagorno-Karabakh, and spoke about dialogue between representatives of societies.
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Commentary
Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

For many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of the newly independent successor states, Russian diplomats counselled their western colleagues on the business of dealing with the people of the Caucasus, and their politics. They often described the Caucasians as the "excitable people of the South", who needed a special kind of handling, and only Russians knew how to do it. It was a Soviet version of "orientalism" that still lingers among the current Russian elite. Putin’s handling of the 2nd Karabakh War - and the subsequent steps he took to establish the post-war order in the region - was very much in this vein. Russia rushed troops to Karabakh to keep the peace, and Russia was to be involved at every stage and in every corner of building a post-war order. There was no space left for others to contribute to this process, except for some general reference to a UN role in providing humanitarian aid. Well content that the excitable people of the South had been calmed down, President Putin turned his attention to other matters – namely what for him were the less excitable, but no less irritable people on the western frontier, the Ukrainians.
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Opinion
Opinion: Balancing the mediators - Armenia and Azerbaijan should avoid offending Russia

Opinion: Balancing the mediators - Armenia and Azerbaijan should avoid offending Russia

Russia has become increasingly critical of western involvement in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict settlement process, writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "Armenia and Azerbaijan should take all necessary steps to avoid being trapped in Russia – West or US – Iran confrontation. The ongoing war in Ukraine proved that this scenario might have catastrophic implications for both states. It does not mean that negotiations should be stopped. However, the hectic moves to sign a US or EU-prepared agreement, which Russia may view as an attempt to kick it out from South Caucasus, may destabilize the situation and bring new war instead of peace. In this context, the possible option to not lose the momentum could be a signature of a document that will envisage the principles of the future peace agreement while providing more time to carefully draft a peace treaty based on the balance of interests of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other actors."
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Monday Commentary
Monday Commentary: The South Caucasus from "balance of power" to "balance of interests"

Monday Commentary: The South Caucasus from "balance of power" to "balance of interests"

For decades, relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan were seen from a false balance of power prism, that in the end failed miserably, and for Armenia, disastrously.  Since November 2020 the question of what comes next has dominated the political discourse in the region. Some think the solution is a return to a balance of power approach, but given the current realities this sounds more like wishful thinking. The future of the region is not balance of power, but balance of interests. This means that both sides engage and co-operate with each other, simply because it is in their interest to do so. The arguments for such an approach are strong, even if they have not yet been convincingly made to the populations at large. But first the loose ends from the 2020 war need to be tied up. The Jus post bellum framework has yet to be worked out. Signing a comprehensive peace treaty before the end of the year, as some insist is possible, is unlikely. But signing a peace document by the end of the year is possible. A "Prague Plus", may be a general document that builds on what has been discussed and agreed in Prague on 7 October 2022, and in other already agreed texts. It also means that after its signing negotiations will have to continue very intensively. These are likely to be in two tracks – the main track between Baku and Yerevan, and a secondary parallel track between Baku and Stepanakert. "It is disingenious to ask what comes first, whether it is peace or a peace treaty, for both depend on each other. For the South Caucasus the next days and weeks will be crucial and it is time for everyone to up their game", writes Dennis Sammut in this Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu