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Commentary: War returns to the Caucasus for one day leaving hundreds of casualties, but the prospects for peace remain
21 September 2023
War returned to the Caucasus for one day this week, claiming hundreds of lives, displacing more people, and denting further the prospects for peace. Every time blood is spilt, regardless of any justification, the wounds of the past open again, and this time is no exception. Whilst Baku appears to have achieved its objective of frustrating the decades-long Armenian political project in Karabakh, the situation on the ground remains fluid. Tens of thousands of civilians are now caught in the epicentre of a difficult and painful political transition that will see Nagorno-Karabakh re-integrated back into Azerbaijan. How this process will work out is not clear at all, and every step is fraught with risks. So far Baku has shown its stick. Now it needs to show its carrot. Following this week’s events, some said that the peace process is dead. This needs not be the case. In fact in their speeches in the last hours both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan reiterated their commitment to the peace agenda. In the coming weeks and months Armenia and Azerbaijan need to remain focused on the one objective of signing a peace agreement. Without it the chance of more deadly violence in future will be much higher. The international community too must keep this as its top agenda in the region. The journey has not become easier in the last days, but the road remains open. The journey now needs to be finished.