Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Thursday that he hopes to sign a peace deal with Azerbaijan in the coming months, following Baku’s retaking of Nagorno-Karabakh from ethnic Armenian separatists in September.
Yerevan and Baku have been embroiled in a decades-long conflict over control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian Karabakh region.
Baku retook the mountainous enclave in a 24-hour offensive in late September, ending decades of Armenian separatist rule.
“We are currently working on a draft agreement on peace and normalization of relations with Azerbaijan, and we hope that this process will be successfully completed in the coming months,” Pashinyan said.
He told the International Economic Forum in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, that any future peace treaty would be based on mutual recognition of Soviet-era borders between neighboring countries in the Caucasus.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said a peace treaty with Yerevan could be signed by the end of the year.
The city of Yerevan had expressed concern that energy-rich Baku would try to extend its dominance.
The country fears that, with the help of its ally Turkey, it may try to forcibly link the Nakhchivan enclave to mainland Azerbaijan by seizing land in southern Armenia, along the so-called Zangezur corridor along the Iranian border. That’s true.
It also accuses Baku of “ethnic cleansing” after almost all of Karabakh’s Armenian population (approximately 100,000 people) fled to Armenia following Baku’s blitzkrieg, sparking a refugee crisis. .
～Skepticism about Western mediation～
Pashinyan said that if the region’s sovereignty is not called into question, Armenia is ready to “open, restart, reconstruct and build all regional communications.”
Baku has vowed to ensure that the rights of Armenians in Karabakh are protected. He denied any territorial claims against Armenia and said he could establish a land link with Nakhichevan through Iran rather than Armenia.
Pashinyan also said Thursday that he hopes the Armenian-Turkish border will be opened for third country nationals and diplomats “in the near future.”
Ankara expressed solidarity with its ally Azerbaijan and closed its border with Armenia in the 1990s.
In 2020 and in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two wars over control of Karabakh. Although Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the majority of its population, at least until recently, is Armenian.
The European Union and the United States are playing leading roles in brokering an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty while Russia, the traditional regional power broker, is stuck in the Ukraine war.
However, the talks have so far failed to lead to a breakthrough, and Aliyev has recently expressed skepticism about Western mediation efforts.
Citing France’s “biased position”, he refused to attend renewed peace talks with Pashinyan in Spain in early October. They were to be mediated by EU Prime Minister Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Aliyev said peace talks with Yerevan could be held in Georgia “if Yerevan agrees,” but Pashinyan, who is keen on Western mediation, rejected the idea.
On Monday, Iran and Russia condemned Western “interference” in tensions between Yerevan and Baku at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Tehran that was also attended by top diplomats from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)