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Opinion: Ahead of November, Armenia and Azerbaijan juggle for their geopolitical position

Opinion: Ahead of November, Armenia and Azerbaijan juggle for their geopolitical position

In the lead-up to this year's NATO Summit in Washington D.C., it was uncertain whether Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov would meet. However, a last-minute announcement confirmed that they would, albeit not in a bilateral format, but with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Expectations were low, given disagreements over Azerbaijani demands for Armenia to change its constitution and the United States now apparently pushing its own vision for unblocking trade and communication in the region. Nonetheless, Blinken again emphasised that the two were close to reaching a deal. The foreign ministers issued identical scant three-paragraph statements which at least referred to a “historic agreement.”

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Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

Opinion: Russian withdrawal from Karabakh allows Azerbaijan to strengthen its ties with its Turkic "family"

The geopolitics of the South Caucasus is as unpredictable as ever. Even as recently as the beginning of April, few, if any, would have imagined that Russia may withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan anytime soon. Many observers were even skeptical about the possibility of their withdrawal in November 2025 – the date which was stipulated in the November 2020 trilateral statement as the potential but not fixed date for the ending of the peacekeeping mission of Russia. This skepticism was grounded in the understanding that for Russia, Karabakh holds paramount importance in the broader context of the South Caucasus. In the wake of Russia’s unexpected withdrawal of its peacekeeping mission from the Karabakh region, the South Caucasus enters a new geopolitical dynamic. This historic development not only signifies Azerbaijan's attainment of complete sovereignty over its territories but also heralds the definitive end of the Karabakh conflict. President Ilham Aliyev's adept diplomatic maneuvers have secured Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and positioned Baku as a confident actor on the regional stage. The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers marks a pivotal moment, shaping the future landscape of Azerbaijan-Russia relations and regional geopolitics. As Azerbaijan charts its course forward, its commitment to regional integration remains, however, steadfast, with a focus on strengthening ties within the Turkic world.
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Opinion: Civil society should actively support Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation

Opinion: Civil society should actively support Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation

The announcement of the return of the four non-enclave villages of Baghanis Ayrim, Ashagi Askipara, Kheyrimli, and Gizilhajili comes as a welcome development. That is not to say that there won’t be problems as the physical process of delimitation/demarcation takes place, and military forces are replaced by border guards, and nor does it ignore the distinct lack of trust between Yerevan and Baku, but it does highlight the need for more focused work in order to build confidence between the sides. Pashinyan has already hinted at the idea of trade between the two communities at some point in an albeit distant future but this is also a region that has experienced significant cross-border incidents for over 30 years. The task won’t be simple, but civil society in both countries could and should play an important role alongside the work of the two governments.
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Armenia and Azerbaijan edge closer to a peace deal

Armenia and Azerbaijan edge closer to a peace deal

Armenia and Azerbaijan last week announced they had agreed on the process of demarcation of their border in the Tavush region that will result in the return of four villages that had been under Armenian control since the conflict in the 1990s to Azerbaijan. The agreement is being seen as a milestone event that will greatly contribute to finalising the process leading towards the signing of a peace agreement between the two countries, who have been in conflict for more than three decades. The agreement comes after months of negotiations, and controversy, including some opposition from Armenian residents in the proximity of the four villages. On 19 April, it was announced that the eighth meeting of the Committee on Demarcation and Border Security of the State Border between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State Committee on the Demarcation of the State Border between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia was held under the chairmanship of Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan and Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafaev. There are of course many small details that will have to be ironed out later, but the fact that the sides have agreed the basic parameters, and especially their re-affirmation that they will "be guided by Alma Ata's 1991 Declaration in the demarcation process" is a huge step forward. No wonder that the international community in the last few days have lined up to congratulate the two sides on their success and to nudge them forward to complete the process of signing a peace agreement between them. Seasoned observers now see the signing of such an agreement as being truly within reach. Of course, there will be those who for one reason or another will not like these developments and will try to spoil the process. Armenia and Azerbaijan must remain focused on overcoming any last obstacles, and on its part, the international community must also remain focused in helping them do so as a priority.
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EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

The European Union and the United States have made a generous financial pledge to Armenia and reaffirmed their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, met today, April 5, 2024 in Brussels to reaffirm support for Armenia's sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. The statement concluded by saying that "A prosperous, sovereign, and democratic Armenia that develops its own partnerships and freely sets its own course will contribute to regional stability and prosperity."
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Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, is in Brussels, where he is expected to meet on Friday afternoon (5 April) with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. The unusual format of the tripartite meeting is being billed as "the joint EU-US-Armenia high-level meeting in support of Armenia’s resilience". There has been intense speculation about the purpose of the meeting, and the likely outcomes. Azerbaijan has seen it as an attempt to encourage Armenia to take a more hardline position in its dealings with it, including in the current negotiations of an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. Russia has been vocal in criticising the meeting, seeing it as yet another western attempt at snatching Armenia away from the Russian orbit. Other countries, such as Turkey and Iran have also been critical of the three way meeting. Behind the scenes there have been a lot of work going on in order to calm down neves, especially in Baku, and ahead of the meeting, both Secretary of State Blinken and President von der Leyen, spoke to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.