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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Azerbaijan and Armenia edge closer to peace

ollowing the recapture of Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia issued a joint statement affirming their commitment to reaching a peace agreement.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev recently announced that Azerbaijan is “closer than ever” to a peace deal with Armenia. This proclamation comes six months after Azerbaijan reclaimed its Karabakh region from its ethnic Armenian majority, triggering a mass exodus of Armenians. With both nations expressing a desire for peace, the region stands at a pivotal moment, where the prospect of a lasting resolution seems within reach.

Progress Towards Peace 

Aliyev’s assertion of being in an “active phase of peace talks” with Armenia marks a notable shift in the post-conflict dynamics of the region. Following the recapture of Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia issued a joint statement affirming their commitment to reaching a peace agreement. Subsequent negotiations, including talks held in Berlin in February, highlight the earnestness of both parties in pursuing diplomatic solutions to long standing grievances.

Read More: Azerbaijan to Resume Peace Talks with Armenia

International Support

The endorsement of peace efforts by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg further validates the significance of the ongoing negotiations. Stoltenberg’s encouragement to seize the opportunity for a lasting peace agreement reflects the international community’s vested interest in stability and reconciliation in the South Caucasus. With global stakeholders rallying behind the peace process, the prospects for a comprehensive resolution are bolstered.

Challenges and Controversies

Despite the optimism surrounding the peace talks, challenges loom large on the path to reconciliation. The contentious issue of border demarcation and the fate of ethnic enclaves remain significant points of contention. Moreover, the legacy of decades-long enmity and the scars of recent conflict pose formidable obstacles to building trust and fostering genuine reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Humanitarian Concerns

The mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from Karabakh following Azerbaijan’s offensive in September 2023 has left a humanitarian crisis in its wake. The displacement of over 120,000 individuals highlights the urgent need for addressing the plight of refugees and ensuring their safe return and integration. Resolving humanitarian issues must be prioritized alongside diplomatic negotiations to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement.

Read More: Azerbaijan Launches Inaugural Direct Flight to Pakistan, Strengthening Ties

Central to the quest for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia is the recognition of each other’s sovereignty and the willingness to compromise on key issues. Establishing regional transport corridors and delineating borders are crucial steps towards fostering economic cooperation and stability. Additionally, initiatives aimed at fostering people-to-people contacts and cultural exchange can help bridge divides and lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation.