“Peace treaty is a priority” - statements of Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministries
Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty
The signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan is one of the priorities of the Armenian government. This was stated on March 7 by the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry. This came as a response to the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, who had once again spoken about the need to sign the document. According to Jeyhun Bayramov, despite the difficulties, “it is already possible to think about normalization”.
“We, Azerbaijan and Turkey, are sending a message to Armenia, it is necessary to create good neighborly relations between countries in the region”, he said at a joint press conference with the Turkish Foreign Minister.
This “exchange of views” between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries took place against the background of another escalation at the western part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. On March 7, units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened aimed fire on Armenian positions. The Armenian Defense Ministry reports that as a result of the shelling, one serviceman was killed and another was wounded.
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“The era of peaceful development and unblocking of the region”
The “Armenpress” agency turned to the Armenian Foreign Ministry with a request to comment on the latest statement of the Azerbaijani minister on the proposal to sign a peace treaty. The press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Vahan Hunanyan, in response, stressed that Armenia has repeatedly stated at the highest level that the signing of a peace agreement with Azerbaijan is one of the priorities of the current government:
“The Government of Armenia has adopted a strategy of opening an era of peaceful development for the region, thus definitely expresses willingness to undertake steps in that direction”.
During a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart on March 5, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Turkey welcomes Azerbaijan’s offer to sign a peace agreement with Armenia. At the same time, he once again spoke about the “Zangezur corridor”, that is, the road through the south of Armenia.
The Armenian authorities have repeatedly confirmed their intention to unblock communications in the region, but with the full preservation of sovereign control over them by each country. While the term “corridor” suggests that Armenia will not control the road that Azerbaijan requires to connect with its exclave of Nakhichevan.
Commenting on the Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement, Vahan Hunanyan said:
“For us, this is an incomprehensible expression [“Zangezur corridor”], and everyone knows about it. On the other hand, the opening of regional communications is also one of the government’s priorities, and concrete steps are being taken in this direction.”
What are the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities “arguing” about?
It is not the first time that the Azerbaijani side has raised the issue of signing a peace treaty, each time emphasizing the need to recognize each other’s territorial integrity.
The Armenian side, represented by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in response, speaks of the need to include discussion of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh on the agenda.
However, the President of Azerbaijan announces that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved following the results of the 2020 war. Moreover, Ilham Aliyev claims that there is no administrative-territorial unit called “Nagorno-Karabakh”, with which the Armenian side categorically disagrees.
As for the signing of the peace treaty, the Prime Minister of Armenia also repeatedly spoke of his intention to establish a “peaceful era” in the region.
“The offer of peace is not a monopoly of Azerbaijan, we ourselves came up with an offer of peace. And we said yes, we are ready for these discussions and we believe that they should take place following the results of the work done in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship [the co-chairing countries are the United States, France and Russia, negotiations had been held in this format on the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict before the 2020 war], and including on the agenda, in particular, the issue of the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh”, Nikol Pashinyan said back in November last year.
The Prime Minister of Armenia emphasizes that Armenia is interested in concluding a peace agreement and starting negotiations on this issue:
“We need strong nerves in order to implement the agenda of peaceful development of our country and region, because many will constantly try to prove or show, or push us to think that this is impossible. But we will consistently move in this direction.”
According to political observer Hakob Badalyan, talking about the priority of signing a peace treaty does not mean giving up the priority of ensuring security.
“Peace should not be established by creating additional risks for Armenia, it should be a means of managing security risks and solving problems, and not a goal pursued at the expense of security”, Hakob Badalyan told JAMnews.
According to the expert, it is quite logical that Armenia’s goal is to establish peace with all its neighbors:
“This does not imply concessions on security or other vital areas. At the same time, the possibility of such risks is not excluded.
Hakob Badalyan assures that the people of the country will have the opportunity to evaluate the “peace process” when the treaty or agreements “at some point X will become public knowledge”.
At the same time, he speaks of a “wide range of risks” for the security of Armenia against the backdrop of Russian-Ukrainian events:
“In this situation, the Caucasus becomes a region of reference and rear for Russia. Turkey and Azerbaijan can not only put pressure on Armenia using Russia’s other occupation, but also turn stability in the Caucasus into a means of pressure on Russia”.
The expert says that in this situation, options to reduce these risks should be used:
“One of the ways to neutralize these risks is also to ensure a positive tone of relations with Turkey, rhetoric and atmosphere, at least as long as such unpredictable events occur in Ukraine with their unpredictable impact on our region”.
Hakob Badalyan does not consider the military escalation on the border with Armenia to be accidental. He emphasizes that it was preceded by a day of active Turkish-Russian negotiations [telephone conversations between Erdogan-Putin and Cavusoglu-Lavrov took place on March 6]:
“It is noteworthy that the escalation is taking place precisely in the direction of Nakhichevan, where, as you know, Turkey has a special presence and influence”.