The absence of peace increases the risk of new escalations (OPINION)

On 25 June in a meeting with an EU delegation in Baku, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, calling Yerevan to sign a peace agreement, declared that “If we do not have a peace agreement with Armenia, it means that there is no peace”. The developments in the Armenia – Azerbaijan relations and frequent escalations with tragic consequences since then have reaffirmed the urgency of a peace treaty. Against the backdrop of latest clashes along the Armenia - Azerbaijan border, the call for a peace treaty and recognition of each other’s territorial integrity gains momentum and should not be disregarded by Armenia and international community.

Unfortunately, the Armenian government did not reciprocate Azerbaijan’s peace calls until the latest clashes in the Lachin and Kalbajar direction of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on November 13-14. Instead of this, by committing military provocations, the Armenian government sought to torpedo the peace process including the unblocking of regional transportation and communication channels as envisaged by the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020.

Rejecting the efforts of the Russian government to hold a trilateral meeting of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia in early November, Yerevan escalated regional tensions and sought to strengthen its bargaining position in peace negotiations. Although ceasefire was achieved between the sides via the mediation of the Russian government on November 14, tensions periodically rise along the entire state border. At the same time, illegal Armenian armed detachments in the territory of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed, periodically fire the positions of the Azerbaijan Army Units.

After its military provocation miserably failed, the Armenian government declared its readiness to sign a peace treaty and launch the process of demarcation and delimitation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border. The government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan would have saved the lives of dozens of Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemen, if he had declared this a few days ago. As the tragic experience of recent months demonstrated, the prolongation of the post-war negotiations costs the lives of more and more innocent people. The sides are under risk of more humanitarian tragedies if they fail to immediately launch substantial negotiations and reach agreements on the conflictual issues in the bilateral agenda.

Such agreements should address the Armenia-Azerbaijan border disputes, transportation links as well as the withdrawal of the Armed Forces of Armenia from the Karabakh region. Any agreement that falls short of resolving any of these issues will not suffice to ensure peace and stability in the region. Although the Armenian government has announced its consent to Russia’s proposals for demarcation and delimitation of the interstate borders as well as to unblocking of regional transportation links, there have been no statements about the illegal existence of the Armenian Armed Forces in the Azerbaijani territories. If Armenia is concerned about its own territorial integrity and the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders, they should first demonstrate respect to the territorial integrity of the neighboring states.

Vasif Huseynov, a senior advisor at the Center of Analysis of International Relations, special for News.Az

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