Rising tensions between Azerbaijan and West

The recent escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan, has exposed the growing rift between Azerbaijan and the West, especially the European Union and the United States. While Azerbaijan has long sought to balance its relations with Russia and the West, the latest crisis has forced it to lean more towards Moscow, which brokered a ceasefire deal that favored Baku’s interests. The West, on the other hand, has been largely sidelined and criticized by Azerbaijan for its perceived lack of support and engagement.

Azerbaijan’s foreign policy dilemma

Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, has been pursuing a pragmatic and multi-vector foreign policy since its independence in 1991. It has tried to maintain good relations with both Russia and the West, while avoiding full-fledged integration with either side. It has also sought to diversify its energy exports and reduce its dependence on Russia, which still exerts significant influence in the region. Azerbaijan has cooperated with the West on energy, security and democratic reforms, but has also resisted pressure to improve its human rights record and political freedoms.

Azerbaijan also feared about inside possible uprising that has been engineered by West due to increasing human rights violations and massively attacks on press freedom.

The main driver of Azerbaijan’s foreign policy has been the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave populated by ethnic Armenians but internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The conflict erupted in the late 1980s and resulted in a war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than a million. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but sporadic clashes have continued ever since. The conflict has been mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by Russia, France and the US, but no lasting political solution has been reached.

Azerbaijan has accused the Minsk Group of being biased in favor of Armenia and failing to pressure Yerevan to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories. It has also blamed the West for not providing enough political and military support to Baku, especially after the 2020 war, when Turkey, a NATO ally, was the only country that openly backed Azerbaijan’s offensive. Azerbaijan has also resented the Western criticism of its human rights violations and crackdown on dissent, which it sees as interference in its internal affairs.

Russia’s role and interests

Russia, on the other hand, has played a more active and decisive role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, despite being formally neutral and having close ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia has a military base in Armenia and is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional security alliance that includes Armenia. However, Russia has also developed a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan, which is a major buyer of Russian arms and a key transit country for Russian gas exports to Turkey and Europe.

Russia has used its leverage over both sides to broker several ceasefire agreements, most notably the one signed in November 2020, which ended the 44-day war and resulted in Azerbaijan regaining control over most of the territories it had lost in the 1990s. The deal also stipulated the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh and the opening of transport corridors between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nakhchivan, an Azerbaijani exclave bordering Turkey and Iran. The deal was seen as a diplomatic victory for Russia, which enhanced its role as the main power broker and security provider in the region while marginalizing the role of the Minsk Group and the West.

Russia’s interests in the region are not only geopolitical but also economic and cultural. Russia seeks to maintain its influence and presence in the South Caucasus, which it considers as part of its “near abroad” and a buffer zone against NATO expansion. Russia also wants to protect its energy interests and transit routes, as well as its large diaspora and Orthodox Christian community in the region. Russia has also been accused of using the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a tool to manipulate and pressure both Armenia and Azerbaijan and to prevent them from moving closer to the West.

The West’s response and challenges

The West, particularly the EU and the US, has been largely absent and ineffective in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, despite having significant interests and stakes in the region. The West has supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan but has also called for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the conflict, based on the principles of the Minsk Group. The West has also provided humanitarian and development aid to both sides, as well as promoting democracy, human rights and civil society in the region.

However, the West has failed to match its rhetoric with action and engagement, especially in the aftermath of the 2020 war. The West has been criticized by Azerbaijan for not condemning Armenia’s aggression and occupation, and for not recognizing Azerbaijan’s right to self-defense and territorial restoration. The West has also been accused by Azerbaijan of being indifferent and passive in the face of the humanitarian crisis and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas. The West has also been challenged by Turkey, which has asserted its role as a regional power and a protector of Azerbaijan’s interests, while clashing with the West on various issues, such as Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The West faces several challenges and dilemmas in dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its implications. On the one hand, the West wants to maintain its strategic partnership with Azerbaijan, which is a key energy supplier and a potential partner in countering Iran’s influence and extremism in the region. On the other hand, the West is concerned about Azerbaijan’s authoritarian tendencies and human rights abuses, which undermine the prospects of democratic reforms and civil society development in the country. The West also wants to preserve its cooperation with Armenia, which is undergoing a political transition and a democratic awakening, while facing economic and security challenges. The West also wants to avoid a confrontation with Russia, which has a dominant role and a vested interest in the region, while seeking to uphold the principles of international law and human rights.

Conclusion

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has exposed the growing tensions and divergences between Azerbaijan and the West, as well as the limitations and weaknesses of Western engagement and influence in the region. Azerbaijan has become more dependent and aligned with Russia, which has emerged as the main arbiter and guarantor of the status quo, while the West has been marginalized and criticized by Baku for its perceived lack of support and involvement. The West faces the difficult task of balancing its interests and values, as well as its relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan while avoiding a clash with Russia and Turkey. The West needs to adopt a more proactive and coherent strategy towards the region, based on dialogue, diplomacy and development, as well as support the efforts of the Minsk Group and the OSCE to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the conflict.

 

Lachin Corridor crisis: How a strategic road could spark a new war in the Caucasus

 The Caucasus Center Special Report: 

The Lachin Corridor is a mountain road that links Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is de facto controlled by ethnic Armenians. The corridor is in the Lachin District of Azerbaijan but is ostensibly under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force as provided for in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh armistice agreement.

The corridor has been described as a “lifeline” for the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, as it is the only road that connects them to Armenia and allows the delivery of humanitarian aid, food, medicine and other essential goods. However, the corridor has also been a source of tension and conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, especially after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, which resulted in significant territorial losses for the Armenian side and the displacement of thousands of civilians.

The 2020 Ceasefire Agreement and Its Implementation

 The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War erupted on September 27, 2020, when Azerbaijan launched a large-scale offensive to reclaim control over Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding regions, which had been under Armenian control since the end of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994. The war lasted 44 days and claimed more than 6,000 lives on both sides.

On November 9, 2020, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a trilateral ceasefire agreement that ended the hostilities and stipulated.

Armenia agreed to withdraw its forces from several districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh that were captured by Azerbaijan during the war, including Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin.

Azerbaijan agreed to halt its military operations and keep control over the territories it had regained during the war, including parts of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

A Russian peacekeeping contingent of 1,960 troops was deployed along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor for a period of five years, renewable by mutual consent of the parties.

The Lachin corridor was to remain under Armenian control, with a width of 5 km, to ensure the connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The city of Lachin and its surrounding villages were to be transferred to Azerbaijani control by December 1, 2020.

A new transport corridor was to be opened under Russian control to connect Azerbaijan’s mainland with its exclave of Nakhchivan through Armenia’s southern Syunik province.

The ceasefire agreement was met with mixed reactions from both sides. While Azerbaijan celebrated its military victory and territorial gains, Armenia denounced its humiliating defeat and political crisis. Many Armenians protested against the agreement and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who signed it under pressure from Russia.

The implementation of the agreement has also faced several challenges and delays.

The transfer of Lachin city and its surrounding villages to Azerbaijani control was postponed until August 26, 2022, due to logistical difficulties and security concerns.

A new route to bypass Lachin city was opened on August 30, 2022, passing by two villages that were renamed by Azerbaijan from Kirov (Hin Shen) and Kirovskiy (Mets Shen) to Kichik Galadarasi and Boyuk Galadarasi respectively.

The opening of the Nakhchivan corridor has been stalled by disagreements over its route, security and legal status. Armenia has insisted that it should be under international supervision and that it should not affect its sovereignty or territorial integrity. Azerbaijan has demanded that it should be under its full control and that it should have access to other regional transport projects.

The return of displaced persons and refugees has been slow and problematic. According to the UNHCR, more than 100,000 people were displaced by the war, mostly ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts. While some have returned to their homes with the help of Russian peacekeepers and humanitarian organizations, many others remain in Armenia or in makeshift shelters in Nagorno-Karabakh. They face insecurity, lack of basic services, and uncertainty about their future.

The 2023 Lachin Corridor Crisis

 On April 23, 2023, Azerbaijani officials set up a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor, near the Hakari Bridge, claiming that it was meant to prevent the “illegal” transport of military supplies and natural resources from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh However, the republics of Armenia and Artsakh have denied these allegations and argued that the ceasefire agreement does not explicitly limit the use of the Lachin corridor to humanitarian needs.

The checkpoint has effectively blocked the movement of vehicles and people along the corridor, creating a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Armenian authorities, more than 200 trucks carrying food, medicine, fuel and other goods have been stranded at the checkpoint for days, unable to reach their destination. Moreover, thousands of civilians who commute daily between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for work, education, health or family reasons have been unable to cross the checkpoint, causing hardship and distress.

The Armenian side has condemned the checkpoint as a violation of the ceasefire agreement and a provocation aimed at destabilizing the situation and undermining the peace process. It has called on the international community, especially Russia, to intervene and pressure Azerbaijan to remove the checkpoint and restore the free movement along the corridor.

The Azerbaijani side has defended its right to control its own territory and to ensure its security and sovereignty. It has accused Armenia of violating the ceasefire agreement by smuggling weapons and exploiting natural resources in Nagorno-Karabakh without its consent. It has also demanded that Armenia fulfill its obligations under the agreement, such as providing maps of minefields and withdrawing its remaining forces from Azerbaijani territory.

The Russian side has expressed its concern over the situation and urged both parties to respect the ceasefire agreement and to resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiation. It has also reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region and to facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The international community has also reacted to the crisis with varying degrees of involvement and influence.

The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S., which has been mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992, has called on both sides to refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and to cooperate with the Russian peacekeepers in ensuring the security of movement along the corridor. It has also reiterated its support for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict based on the principles of non-use of force, territorial integrity, equal rights and self-determination.

The European Union, which has been providing humanitarian and development assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding regions since 2016, has expressed its solidarity with the people affected by the blockade and urged Azerbaijan to lift it without delay. It has also stressed its readiness to contribute to confidence-building measures and dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The United Nations, which has been monitoring the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh through its agencies and partners, has appealed for unhindered access to deliver aid to those in need and for respect for international humanitarian law by all parties. It has also called for a lasting political solution to the conflict that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Council of Europe, which has been promoting human rights, democracy and rule of law in Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2001, has condemned the blockade as a violation of human dignity and a threat to regional stability. It has also urged both sides to comply with their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other relevant instruments.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has been supporting Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh since 1993, has welcomed Azerbaijan’s efforts to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh and its adjacent districts. It has also called on Armenia to respect the ceasefire agreement and cooperate with Azerbaijan to address the humanitarian issues arising from the conflict.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is a military alliance of six former Soviet states including Armenia but not Azerbaijan, has expressed its solidarity with Armenia as a member state and its concern over the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. It has also stated that it is ready to provide assistance to Armenia in case of external aggression against its territory or sovereignty.

The Caucasus Center: International Conference on Peace in South Caucasus

The International Conference on Peace in South Caucasus: How to Achieve Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh

The Caucasus Center for Strategic and International Studies (CCSIS) is pleased to announce the International Conference on Peace in South Caucasus, which will take place this year in 2023.

The South Caucasus region has been plagued by conflicts for decades, especially the unresolved dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The recent war in 2020 has resulted in thousands of casualties, massive displacement, and humanitarian crises. Despite the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia, the prospects for a lasting peace remain uncertain and fragile.

The International Conference on Peace in South Caucasus aims to bring together scholars, practitioners, policymakers, civil society actors, and media representatives from South Caucasus and other countries to discuss the challenges and opportunities for achieving peace in the region. The conference will provide a platform for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and constructive engagement on various aspects of the conflict resolution process, such as:

  • The role of regional and international actors in facilitating peace and security
  • The legal and political implications of the ceasefire agreement and its implementation
  • The humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the war and the post-war recovery
  • The promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law
  • The fostering of dialogue, trust, and reconciliation among the conflicting parties and communities
  • The prevention of future violence and escalation

The conference invites submissions of abstracts for paper presentations on any of the above topics or other relevant issues. The abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should include the title, author(s) name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information. The deadline for submission is October 31, 2023. The accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings.

The conference will be held this year 2023 and the venue of the conference will be announced later.

The conference will feature:

  • Keynote speeches by prominent experts and policymakers
  • Panel discussions on various topics related to the conflict and its implications
  • Workshops on conflict resolution, dialogue, and cooperation
  • A roundtable with representatives of the parties involved in the conflict
  • A final declaration and a policy brief with recommendations for the international community and the parties involved

The conference will be held in English, with simultaneous interpretation in Armenian, Azerbaijani, Russian, and Turkish. The conference will be live-streamed on our website and social media platforms.

We are looking for partner organizations that can join hands with us in this initiative to promote peace and the recommendations of experts in this area.

If you are interested, you can send you letter of interest at this email: info AT thecaucasuscenter.org

We look forward to your participation and contribution to this important dialogue for peace in South Caucasus.

What Does Israel’s President Visit to Azerbaijan Mean for Iran and the Region?

 

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog visited Azerbaijan marking the first state visit by an Israeli head of state to the secular Shiite Muslim country that shares a 670-kilometer border with Iran.

The visit, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence, aimed to deepen the strategic partnership between the two countries in various fields, including health care, cyber security and defense. Herzog met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev and praised the level of love and affection that exists between the two nations. He also invited Aliyev to visit Israel in return.

The visit came at a time when Azerbaijan and Iran are at odds over several issues, such as the status of ethnic Azeris in Iran, the opening of an Iranian consulate in Armenia, and the alleged involvement of Iran in attacks against both countries in recent months. Azerbaijan has accused Iran of supporting Armenia in the 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that was reclaimed by Azerbaijan with the help of Israeli drones and weapons. Iran has denied the accusations and expressed concern over the presence of foreign forces near its borders.

Israel and Azerbaijan have a close defense relationship that dates back to the early 1990s, when Israel was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, Israel has become Azerbaijan’s main supplier of arms and technology, accounting for 69% of its arms imports in 2016-2020. Azerbaijan is also one of Israel’s main sources of oil, providing about 40% of its petroleum imports.

The visit also reflected a new level of openness and cooperation between the two countries, which had been mostly discreet and low-profile in the past for fear of alienating other Muslim-majority states or provoking Iran. However, following the Abraham Accords and Israel’s rapprochement with Turkey, Azerbaijan decided to open its embassy in Israel for the first time in March 2023. The move was seen as a signal to Iran and other regional actors that Azerbaijan values its ties with Israel and is not afraid to show it.

Iran, on its part, has reacted with suspicion and paranoia to the growing Israeli-Azerbaijani alliance. On the eve of Herzog’s visit, Tehran reported that it had arrested 14 members linked to Israel who were seeking to identify and assassinate various individuals. A week earlier, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence said it had dismantled a network connected to a foreign intelligence service that monitored individuals who had access to sensitive material or were in charge of various positions in the nation’s sensitive organizations.

Iran has also accused Israel of using Azerbaijan as a base for gathering intelligence on Iran and preparing for possible future attacks. Iran views Israel as its arch-enemy and has repeatedly threatened to destroy it. Israel has also carried out covert operations and cyberattacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities and military assets.

The Caucasus Center call for Submissions

 

The Caucasus Center for Strategic and International Studies (CCSIS) is a leading think-tank that focuses on the Caucasus, CIS, Central Asia, and Eurasia region. We have a global audience and outreach.

The Caucasus Center accepts submissions from scholars, academics, analysts, and other veterans who are interested to contribute on any issue. Our focus is on Caucasus, Central Asia, Middle East, Eurasia, and worldwide issues.

The world is passing through a very sensitive era full of controversies, fake news, and biased agendas. At this time an objective approach can something that can contribute a little ray of light for seeking the truth.

You can write on any issue, subject, or matter that is worth to be addressed in a scholarly approach, analytical way, or critical approach.

Send you pitches ideas info (AT) thecaucasuscenter.org

 

 

Why the US Wants an Unstable and Volatile Afghanistan?

 

The hasty withdrawal failed to push Afghanistan into the next US-planned proxy battlefield for the accomplishment of the US regional interests. But still, the US gesturing and alarming the emergence of serious security threats like the so-called ISIS-K.

The US wants an unstable and weak Afghanistan where America can easily play its proxy games and future role. To create proxies and then to trigger massive unrest is a vital part of US foreign policy. The world had seen the role of these proxies in the Middle East and the Arab Spring. This creation of proxies had changed the whole world order and almost the entire map of the Middle East. How the US self-created dictatorships fall one after another. The world has been witnessed all these horrendous memories of Arab uprisings.

To get a hold on the nerves and minds of a war-torn country is easy and the US had vast experience in exploiting such kinds of countries’ resources and internal affairs.

The United States of America (USA) is responsible for all kinds of the current situation of Afghanistan and the miseries of Afghan people. The people of Afghanistan need justice and it could only be possible when the US should be accountable to pay the damages of this havoc.

In the recent Afghanistan talk hosted by Russia, the US absence is an attempt to flee from the scene. The US intended to get face-saving on this massive destruction and war crimes that they committed in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is facing the worst humanitarian crisis of its history. The root cause of this humanitarian crisis is the US proxies war doctrine. In the name of strengthening so-called democracy and coming to help the depressed communities, the US left a more dilapidated Afghanistan with more depressions and woes than before.

It’s time that the multipolar world should build pressure on the United States (US) and its allies that the destruction they were responsible for two decades, its time now to pay these damages and massacres at least to compensate for a little remedy to these people.

 

 

The Caucasus Conflict: Why Azerbaijani Lavy Taxes from Iranian Trucks What Next?

The Caucasus Conflict: Azerbaijani Lavy Taxes from Iranian Trucks What Next?

The Caucasus Center is launching its special series of analyses on the Iran-Azerbaijan emerging border conflict. We will publish the various possible simulations in the coming weeks. We are going to closely monitor the situation and publish the objective analysis.

If you are interested to submit your Simulation, you can send us at eamil:

info AT thecaucasuscenter DOT org and we will publish it with your name and title.

Don’t forget to send your full name, email address, phone, and title.

The Caucasus Center

South Caucasus: Tension Rising between Azerbaijan and Iran borders

Iran and Azerbaijan border conflict getting international attention after the news of both countries’ military drills activities near their borders. Iran is concerned with the Azerbaijan regional emergence as a tiny oil-rich state that is heavily equipped with Israeli sophisticated weapons and Turkish drones.

Initially, Azerbaijan started its military drills with its Turkish and Pakistani counterparts. Azerbaijan also detained two Iranian drivers and blocks Trucks’ entry towards Armenia. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Thursday expressed disappointment over the inappropriate treatment toward Iranian truck drivers and the arrest of two of them by Azerbaijani border guards.

However more recently Azerbaijani national protest outside Iranian Embassy in Baku sparked serious concerns in Tehran.  Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Abbas Mousavi on Friday strongly condemned the provocative acts by some Azerbaijani nationals against the Iranian Embassy in Baku on Thursday night.

In recent weeks series of meeting from the Ambassador level to the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and Iran took place to resolve their difference. Both the countries are trying to downplay their internal rifts.

In South Caucasus two leading power players are Russia and Iran. Azerbaijan is a former Soviet state always been under the heavy influence of Moscow. But more recently after the Nagorno-Karabakh War-II, Baku confidence surprised regional and international players. It seems that a policy shift has been deliberately trying to implement by regional players in the South-Caucasus region.

Turkish footprints in South Caucasus are not acceptable either for Russia or Iran. So, Turkey is continuously involved in Azerbaijan and emerged as a major leading supporter and arms supplier to Baku in the Nagorno-Karabakh war-II.

Turkish direct intervention in the South Caucasus region is a serious risk and posing a threat to the other countries. It’s triggering a race of arms and ammunition competition in the region. Turkey’s intentions are clear to make a Turkish-speaking countries bloc that is not acceptable to any of the neighbors near Iran and Russia.

It’s a reality that Iran is one of the leading powers in the South Caucasus. Iran has no military comparison with Azerbaijan because Iran’s combat capacity is much more than Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a leading buyer of Israeli weapons. For Iran to accept a country that has been heavily equipped with Israeli weapons next to its border is a major concern.

Iran sending a message to Azerbaijan through these military drills that they would not accept an “Azerbaijan” that can pose a challenge to its neighbors in near future.

Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said at a meeting with Azerbaijan’s new ambassador “We do not tolerate the presence and activity against our national security of the Zionist regime next to our borders and will take any necessary action in this regard,”.

To win a war from Armenia does not mean Azerbaijan becomes a regional player. Though Azerbaijan comes in limelight after the Nagorno-Karabakh war if there is a sense of overconfidence that means it led Baku to some very unexpected and awkward situations.

So, to become a proxy of Israel and the United States (US) in the South Caucasus would not be a wise enough move for Azerbaijan.

For Azerbaijan, any miscalculation of strength about Iran’s power could cause serious repercussions.

 

 

 

Nagorno-Karabakh principle solution is in Direct Dialogue: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov while speaking at the 16th annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club said that the political process on the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been slowed down.

He said: “The situation on the contact line has been quite calm lately and there are a few minor incidents. The bodies of the killed people were exchanged, an exchange of detainees is being prepared – in very small quantity, but nonetheless, some kind of process continues.”

Lavrov said: “The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s settlement-Russia, France, the US- work closely, they met three times already this year, I think, with the foreign ministers, including in April in Moscow with my participation. Regarding the situation on the ground, I would say that it’s calmer now than a year ago, but the political process has slowed down.”

Russian Foreign Minister said: “We, as co-chairs, work together with the Americans and the French, thank God, this is probably one of the few situations where we have a completely unified vision,” he said. “We have basic documents – we don’t want to reconsider them, we want to seek a solution based on these principles that have been discussed many times. But the solution must, of course, be found through direct dialogue.”

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.