Azerbaijan, Armenia at final stage in long-drawn-out drama
    Article by The Emerging Europe

    POLITICS  24 May 2024 - 18:05

    Writing in The Emerging Europe, Taras Kuzio, a political science professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and junior research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, describes normalisation of the Azerbaijan-Armenia relations.

    “Azerbaijan is the only case in Eurasia which has resolved the three-decade old conflict through patient diplomacy, transforming itself into an energy power and building up military alliances with Israel and Türkiye,” Caliber.Az reports citing the article.

    According to the article, decades of negotiations under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) proved fruitless in Azerbaijan, as in Moldova and Georgia. The US lost interest in the region while France increasingly sided with Armenia.

    In 2020, after a brief conflict in 2016 and skirmishes over the next four years, the Second Karabakh War broke out. The war was relatively brief, lasting only forty-four days, and leading to Armenia’s military defeat.

    Azerbaijan’s army was outfitted with Israeli, Turkish, and other Western military equipment and its officers were trained in military academies in NATO member states.

    Azerbaijan’s military victory returned the bulk of the land it had lost in the early 1990s, in the First Karabakh War.

    A trilateral peace agreement between both parties brokered by Russia introduced so-called Russian ‘peacekeeping’ forces. Russia has used its so-called ‘peacekeeping’ forces to freeze conflicts indefinitely, making them into a de facto permanent military base.

    Not surprisingly, neither side was satisfied by the Russian ‘peacekeeping’ forces. Azerbaijan believed Russian ‘peacekeepers’ should facilitate the de-militarisation of Karabakh and the dismantling of separatist institutions that had become illegal under the trilateral agreement.

    Armenia did not withdraw its forces from Karabakh or dismantle the enclave’s separatist institutions, two steps to be taken in the trilateral peace agreement. Russian ‘peacekeepers’ turned a blind eye to Yerevan supplying military equipment and rotating troops to Karabakh.

    A 24-hour offensive by Azerbaijan, dubbed an ‘anti-terrorist operation,’ recaptured Karabakh in September 2023. The enclaves’ Armenian inhabitants, after decades of nationalist propaganda, ignored Baku’s guarantee of minority rights and moved to Armenia.

    This year, the final stage in the long-drawn-out drama is ending. In March, Yerevan agreed to return four villages to Azerbaijan.

    Russia withdrew its ‘peacekeeping’ forces in April-May for three reasons. Firstly, both sides were critical of the passivity of Russian ‘peacekeepers’.

    Secondly, Azerbaijan had completed the return of all its internationally recognised territory in the First Karabakh War in 2020, in the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ in Karabakh in 2023, and this year in negotiating the return of four villages.

    Thirdly, Russia’s massive losses in military equipment, including 3,000 tanks, and over 450,000 casualties in its war against Ukraine.

    After 32 years, Armenia and Azerbaijan are set to sign a peace agreement that will bring peace to the most bitter conflict that emerged in the dying days of the USSR.

    Caliber.Az

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