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Nagorno-Karabakh: Uneasy Ceasefire, Key Issues Remain Nagorno-Karabakh: Uneasy Ceasefire, Key Issues Remain
by Rene Wadlow
2020-12-21 12:06:13
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9 and 10 December 2020 marked the one month anniversary of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh known as Artsakh by the Armenians. The ceasefire was negotiated by Russia between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The agreement was signed by the Russian President, Vladimir Poutin, the Azerbajan President Ilhaù Aliev and the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian. However on 11 December, the Russian Novosti Press Agency reported the first ceasefire violation, an exchange of fire between Azerbaijan and Armenian soldiers. There are some 2000 Russian peace keepers on site, but it is always difficult to control a ceasefire. Moreover, a nceasefire is only the first step on what will be a long path of confidence-building measures and ultimately forms of cooperation.

nago0001_400The ceasefire agreement structures two safe avenues of road communication from the remaining Armenian areas in Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. In the same way there will be a safe avenue of road communication from the Azerbaijan areas to Nakhitehevan, an Azerbaijan majority area within Armenia. The avenue to Nakhitehevan close to the frontier with Turkey will allow Turkish goods to cross to Azerbaijan and from there through Central Asia to the frontier with China.

Turkey considers the outcome of the ceasefire as a victory for Turkey, especially that the Turkish drones and weapons used by the Azerbaijan forces played a large role in giving Azerbaijan a military advantage. In contrast, the outcome of the ceasfire is considered by many in Armenia as a defeat, creating an instability for the current government led by Pachinian. The results of the ceasefire has led to the naming of a new Foreign Minister, Ara Aivazian on 18 November.

The conflict has led to a large number of new refugees, of displaced persons and hopes among those in Azerbaijan who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the 1992-1994 armed conflict. The economy of the area, always marginal as Nagorno-Karabakh , a mountainous, largely rural area is largely destroyed. However, the area had highly symbolic meaning for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Group of Minsk, created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the 1992-1994 conflict has 11 States as members including Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Minsk Group has three co-chairs: Russia, France, the USA. The Group as a whole rarely meets. Rather it is diplomats from Russia and France who have met in bilateral meetings with representatives from Azerbaijan or Armenia. There has been little progress in finding confidence-building measures and virtually none on forms of cooperation.

Today, this armed conflict in an area that is troubled in a number of places may be a warning sign that negotiations in good faith should be a priority. The Association of World Citizens has been concerned with the tensions in Nagrono-Karabak since the eve of the breakup of the USSR in 1991. We need to remain alert at possible efforts at Track II diplomacy or other forms of non-governmental mediation.

 ****************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


     
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