Opinion: Will an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace agreement be indefinitely delayed? [Azeri opinion]

Jan 26 2024

2023 ended with positive notes for the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, but the new year has so far failed to maintain the momentum. Despite a successful prisoner exchange, and Armenia’s endorsement of Azerbaijan’s COP29 candidacy, recent statements from the respective governments have presented a mixed picture. While the Azerbaijani side has not indicated any setbacks in the ongoing talks yet, the Armenian government has criticized the recent statements by the Azerbaijani leader as unconstructive for the peace process.

Complicating matters further, disagreements have intensified regarding the possible regulations along the Zangezur corridor. The latest developments highlight a disparity in the visions of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan for this corridor. Unfortunately, these developments suggest that the obstacles in the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty talks may be more fundamental, potentially leading to indefinite delays in the process.

The interview of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev with local TV channels on January 10 was the cause that sparked the extensive discussions. Despite President Aliyev’s explicit denial of any intention by his government to invade Armenian territory, Armenian officials, experts, social media users, and some Western officials fueled a fearmongering campaign, alleging Aliyev’s intent to invade Armenia. The situation escalated to the point where the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrel, and the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Peter Stano, warned Azerbaijan against such actions, threatening Baku with “severe consequences”.

What is perplexing is why European officials are joining this campaign, when it is evident that such a military operation could yield counterproductive outcomes for Baku. Leaders in Azerbaijan, being widely known for their pragmatic foreign policy approach, comprehend this reality and have consistently refuted any intentions or preparations for such an invasion. Nevertheless, the statements from Brussels, combined with anti-Azerbaijani resolutions from the European Parliament and the French Senate, have already had adverse effects on EU-Azerbaijan relations, eroding trust between the two sides.

This is accompanied by escalating disagreements among the three signatories of the 10 November 2020 trilateral statement (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia), particularly regarding the final provision pertaining to the reopening of regional transportation links. The statements released by each side in January underscored their divergent positions. Azerbaijan advocates for an unimpeded passage without customs and security checks for passengers and cargo through what it refers to as the Zangezur corridor, connecting the western part of Azerbaijan to Nakchivan. In stark contrast, Armenia firmly rejects this proposal, which had been otherwise envisioned in the trilateral statement.

Interestingly, Russia also advocates for customs and security checks on this route, but with a condition – insisting that Russia’s border guards oversee these measures. A similar discord arises over the responsibility for ensuring security on this route, with Russia and Azerbaijan expecting Armenia to comply with the trilateral statement and accept the deployment of Russia’s border guards. However, Yerevan rejects this provision as well. Given the opposition of the United States to the deployment of the Russian border guards, the issue turns out to be another act in the theater of geopolitical rivalries between Russia and the West, rather than a matter between the two directly involved countries.

This disagreement has evolved into a significant impediment, especially after President Aliyev’s declaration on 10 January that Baku will not consider opening Azerbaijan’s borders with Armenia elsewhere unless the Zangezur corridor is operational. This raises the question of whether Baku would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Armenia without reaching an agreement on the Zangezur corridor. Considering the current circumstances and the importance Baku places on this corridor, the answer to this question appears to be in the negative.

Nevertheless, there have been also one important development over the past month which gives a glimmer of hope that the two countries are still on the path of reconciliation. It is related to an apparent understanding between Baku and Yerevan that the remaining legal hurdles for the peace treaty should be eliminated. As it has been emphasised for a long time, Armenia’s existing constitution contains a territorial claim against Azerbaijan and Turkiye, calling for unification of Karabakh with Armenia and naming the eastern part of Turkiye as “Western Armenia”. In 2021, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan referred to this fact as a challenge to the peace efforts in the region. “There is a territorial claim against Türkiye in the Constitution of Armenia. They should abandon that. They need to revise and re-adopt their constitution… they must give up their claims against Türkiye and Azerbaijan”, said Aliyev in an interview with a Turkish media channel.

The call for a new constitution by the Armenian premier is therefore interpreted as a breakthrough to this challenge. On January 19, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, explaining the need for a new constitution, stated that it would maintain the present parliamentary system. He underscored “external security” and “internationally recognized sovereign territory” as the main elements on the agenda that will be addressed in the constitutional reform. It is however likely that the process for Armenia adopting a new constitution will take a long time  – another reason why we may expect delays in the peace talks,

In conclusion, the recent complexities surrounding the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process suggest a more profound and enduring challenge than initially anticipated. Disagreements over the Zangezur corridor, exacerbated by geopolitical interests, have become significant obstacles. While a potential breakthrough as a result of the prospect of Armenia’s constitutional reform offers a glimmer of hope, the path to a comprehensive peace treaty remains fraught with hurdles, hinting at potential indefinite delays in the process.

 

Armenpress: Azerbaijan raises issue of 4 villages, Armenia – 32: Pashinyan proposes practical solutions to the enclave problem

 01:04, 14 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 14, ARMENPRESS.  Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has emphasized the imperative for practical steps based on mutually agreed-upon maps regarding the adjustment of territories, borders, as well as issues of enclaves and exclaves with Azerbaijan.
"Azerbaijan raises the issues of four villages, while the Republic of Armenia raises the issues of 32 villages, the vital territories of which have been occupied, including those in the region of Gegharkunik.
Given our commitment to recognizing each other's territorial integrity on the basis of the Alma-Ata Declaration, we state that there should be no occupied territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Therefore, if it is determined that Armenia controls territories that 'de jure' belong to Azerbaijan, Armenia will have to withdraw. Similarly, for territories that 'de jure' belong to Armenia but are currently controlled by Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan will have to withdraw," PM Pashinyan said Saturday.
“This is the political agreement that has been recorded, but it is impossible to implement it practically without a mutually agreed map.
There is one way to adjust the territories: to politically base the maps expressing the provisions of the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration, go to see the reality on the ground and match the realities to the maps.
"The opposite approach means creating a situation that will constantly lead to escalations, which can’t be a foundation for peace," Pashinyan said.
He noted that Artsvashen has been under the occupation of Azerbaijan for 30 years. 
“A political agreement has largely been reached that this issue should be addressed through a certain model. The same approach should be applied here, using mutually agreed-upon maps as the basis for accurately addressing the territory and the problem,” noted Pashinyan.

Stable Iran Crucial for Armenia’s Security, Says Expert

Jan 7 2024

By: Momen Zellmi

In the geopolitical ballet of the Middle East, Armenia’s security is inextricably tied to the stability of Iran. This was the core message delivered by Gohar Iskandaryan, an expert on Iranian studies, during a recent press conference.

The assertion underscores the intricate interplay of regional politics, where the tremors of unrest in one country can ripple through its neighbors.

Iskandaryan highlighted the symbiotic relationship between Armenia and Iran, outlining how stability in Iran directly impacts Armenia’s security interests. As neighboring nations with close economic and geopolitical ties, the potential security threats Armenia could face if Iran’s stability is compromised are significant.

Recent demonstrations in Iran, contrary to their usual anti-government nature, have been pro-government, signaling a show of support for the regime. This shift in public sentiment is an element that Iskandaryan believes is crucial for the ongoing stability of the region.

CIS informal summit kicks off

 15:45,

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 26, ARMENPRESS. The informal summit of the CIS has kicked off in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The meeting is traditionally hosted by the Russian President ahead of New Year.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is among the participating leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited CIS leaders to start the talks during a tour in the Saint Petersburg Palaces and Gardens complex.

Government to compensate tuition of students from NK

 13:27, 21 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 21, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian government has adopted a decision to compensate the tuition of forcibly displaced students of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The decision adopted at the December 21 Cabinet meeting covers 935 students.

264 million drams will be allocated for the first semester tuition. 

The money will be transferred to the universities.

Over 1800 forcibly displaced students of Nagorno-Karabakh are now enrolled in Armenian universities, and over 1100 in colleges.

BTA. Netherlands Parliament Votes in Favour of Bulgaria’s Schengen Entry

 16:39,

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 22, ARMENPRESS/BTA. The Netherlands Parliament voted late on Thursday evening to approve the position of the country's government in favour of Bulgaria becoming a full member of the Schengen border-free area, Bulgarian Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov told journalists on Friday. According to Stoyanov, the position of Austria is the only hurdle left regarding Sofia's Schengen bid.

Very intensive talks are underway between Bulgaria and Austria, and between Romania and Austria, Stoyanov said. EU institutions engaged in the process are taking part in the negotiations. The minister expressed hope that Austria will make a decision in the coming days. "This will hardly happen before New Year's Eve. What matters to us is to have a decision by Austria; it is less important whether it comes before or after New Year's Eve," he commented.

Reactions

PM Nikolay Denkov said that, in a way, the Netherlands’ decision was expected and now Bulgaria has a better position to negotiate with Austria for the final decision about the country’s accession to Schengen. Commenting on President Rumen Radev's call on the government to ensure Bulgaria's full accession to Schengen by New Year’s Eve, Denkov said the negotiations are ongoing and they will end in a way that considers Austria's concerns, as this country has a serious migration problem. "Any appeals of a general nature do not help at all at the moment. Negotiations require delicacy, calmness, and arguments to be heard on the other side. If it [Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen] were so easy to do, the caretaker cabinet should have done it last year," Denkov stressed. Any comments such as what could have happened count for nothing now, he added.

Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel: "I welcome the decision of the Dutch Parliament to agree to Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the Schengen area. I would also like to thank [Dutch] Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government who tabled the proposal last week. I am convinced that this action is in the interests not only of us and our northern neighbour, but also of the entire European Union."

(This information is being published according to an agreement between Armenpress and BTA.)




Students who moved to Armenia from NK to receive tuition fee reimbursement

Dec 21 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

The Armenian government has decided to compensate tuition fees for another 935 students from Nagorno-Karabakh who studied in Armenia before the war of September 2023. After the end of hostilities, almost the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh moved to Armenia, and those students who studied in the universities of Nagorno-Karabakh began to study in Armenian universities.

As for their tuition fees, the decision to compensate them was made a few weeks ago. For this purpose, the government allocated an additional 842 million drams ($2,105,000).

More than 1,800 students from Nagorno-Karabakh pursue their studies in Armenian universities. The Armenian government will partially or fully compensate the tuition fees of all Karabakh students.


  • Karabakhi Armenians appeal to the world. What should they expecte? Opinions
  • “There are no Armenians left in NK, though Russians have taken to defending them”. Opinion about reasons
  • “Armenia was only reacting to challenges”: on the situation after the 2020 war

The Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Zhanna Andreasyan specified that the new decision concerns those students who were already students of Armenian universities before the September events. In their case, the government is not tasked with restoring their rights. They only need financial support:

“There are two groups of students. Funding for the education of one group came from their families, who are now deprived of the opportunity to provide this support for known reasons. The tuition of the other was paid for by the NK authorities. Now this source of financing can’t be used either.”

According to the Minister, it is about 935 students.

The government will allocate 264 million drams ($660,000) to compensate the first semester fees of this group of students.

What the Armenian government offers to the Karabakh Armenians, their views on it and experts’ comments

The data of students of NK middle professional education and higher education institutions who moved after September 19, 2023 and were transferred to Armenian state educational institutions have already been processed.

In total, there are about 1836 university students (1728 are studying at the bachelor’s level, 108 at the master’s level). About 440 million drams ($1,100,000) have been allocated to compensate their tuition fees for the first semester of the 2023-2024 academic year.

2524 displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh continue their education in specialized secondary and vocational educational institutions. About 402 million drams ($1,005,000) have been allocated for this group.

“If additional data appears, students who are still not included in the educational process will apply to us, an additional decision will be made regarding their inclusion in the program,” assured Education Minister Zhanna Andreasyan.

Putin Reveals Lack of Communication from Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh Recognition

bnn
HongKong – Dec 18 2023
By: Momen Zellmi

In an unexpected revelation from the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed that Armenia failed to provide Russia with pertinent information preceding its recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory. The lack of communication between Armenia and its ally Russia could potentially impact the diplomatic dynamics concerning the disputed region.

Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Qarabağ in Azerbaijani, has been a contentious area between Armenia and Azerbaijan for decades. Internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, with Armenia’s backing, since the conclusion of a separatist war in 1994. This ongoing conflict has seen Russia play an instrumental role as a mediator, with a standing peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The statement by Putin indicates a potential lapse in coordination or communication between Armenia and Russia on a crucial diplomatic stance. This revelation could significantly alter the dynamics in the region and the relationship between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry has already voiced criticism towards Yerevan’s politicians for their failure to fully implement trilateral agreements and has pointed out specific actions that obstructed the process.

Reacting to the recent developments, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry has signaled its readiness to recommit to peace negotiations with Azerbaijan. The proposal for direct talks from Baku has been noted positively in Yerevan, hinting at possible diplomatic progression towards resolving the longstanding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In another strain of news, Gleb Karakulov, a defector from the Kremlin’s bodyguard agency, has provided intimate details about Putin, labeling him as paranoid and a war criminal. The Kremlin has remained silent on the matter while a desertion case has been opened against Karakulov in Russia. This situation underlines the existing complexities and tensions in Russian politics, which could have far-reaching implications in regional and international affairs.

https://bnnbreaking.com/world/russia/putin-reveals-lack-of-communication-from-armenia-on-nagorno-karabakh-recognition/


FROM ARMENIA TO UKRAINE: UNICEF MAPS OUT HUMANITARIAN ACTION FOR CHILDREN IN 2024


Dec 18 2023

Emergency Response


How UNICEF plans to meet urgent and escalating needs of children in a number of conflict and crisis hotspots around the world, by leaning into local partnerships to accelerate and sustain impact and appealing for more flexible funding support. 

UNICEF — which is funded entirely by voluntary donations from public and private sector donors — has launched an appeal for $9.3 billion to support Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) in 2024.

The extensive plan for the year ahead reflects an increasingly dire situation for children in the world today due to conflicts, natural disasters and the devastating impacts of climate change — from child displacement to outbreaks of preventable disease to mounting food insecurity. In many places around the world where UNICEF works, these crises tend to overlap and amplify one another. 

In announcing the appeal, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said receiving flexible funding from donors is ideal. UNICEF specializes in emergency response, often being the first on the ground as a crisis unfolds and among the last to leave and supporting efforts to recover and rebuild; flexible funding allows UNICEF to respond quickly and deliver assistance to the most vulnerable children, when and where it is needed, and to adapt or pivot as needs and conditions change, sometimes hour by hour.

Flexible funding enabled UNICEF's South Sudan country office to quickly deploy social workers and set up Child-Friendly Spaces at remote border locations, where more than 130,000 women and children fleeing the conflict in Sudan had arrived by early August. Flexible funding also allowed UNICEF to kickstart its response in Gaza, including the prepositioning of essential WASH supplies such as bottled water, and the allocation of humanitarian cash transfers to conflict-affected households.

UNICEF's strategy for 2024 also leans into "localization" — UNICEF's term for collaborating with local partners, who play a crucial role in delivering immediate relief to children in hard-to-reach places and in longer-term resilience building and system strengthening.

"Millions of children continue to be caught in humanitarian crises that are growing in complexity and scale, and that are increasingly stretching our resources to respond,” Russell said. “With predictable flexible funding, UNICEF and partners can quickly support children in need from the moment an emergency strikes, while preparing for future risks to save and improve lives.”

With predictable flexible funding, UNICEF and partners can quickly support children in need from the moment an emergency strikes, while preparing for future risks to save and improve lives. — UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell

There are 43 separate action plans for 2024 — a global plan, 30 separate plans covering individual countries*, seven regional plans and five that cover a different multi-country crisis. While each plan estimates funding needs for specific programs and interventions, UNICEF encourages supporters not to earmark their donations to a specific country or cause.

Here are some examples of how UNICEF plans to keep delivering for children in 2024.

In late September-early October 2023, over 100,000 ethnic Armenians — including 30,000 children — fled to the Republic of Armenia following a hostile military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, their region of origin. Around 98,000 refugees have been officially registered to date and they are located throughout Armenia, with the highest numbers in Yerevan, followed by Syunik, Kotayk and Ararat provinces. This significant influx of refugees is deeply affecting already overstretched host communities. UNICEF is already on the ground assisting the government-led response, helping to meet urgent needs in health and nutrition, education and child protection, with special focus on supporting separated and unaccompanied children and children with disabilities.

The plan for 2024 includes continuing to work with government and civil society partners to ensure inclusive and age- and gender-appropriate services for uprooted children, adolescents and families, providing social protection through humanitarian cash assistance or vouchers, and helping to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene support, among other measures. Learn more.

For other countries click on the link below

https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/armenia-ukraine-unicef-maps-out-humanitarian-action-children-2024







Turkish Press: Seven investigations, three lawsuits launched on Diyarbakır Bar for Armenian Genocide Remembrance in last six years

 duvaR.english 
Turkey – Dec 15 2023
Friday 08:43 pm

Turkish prosecutors have launched seven investigations and filed three lawsuits against the Diyarbakır Bar Association administration since 2017 for Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), “Insulting the Turkish nation, state, government, Parliament, and its judicial bodiesi” for statements made during Armenian Genocide Remembrance Events.

The Media and Legal Studies Organization (MLSA) documented the Turkish state’s legal battle with the Bar Association of the southeastern Diyarbakır province over its stance on the Armenian genocide. 

A Diyarbakır prosecutor’s office most recently launched an investigation into chair Nahit Eren and ten executive board members of the Diyarbakır Bar Association regarding the statement “Confrontation and reconciliation must begin from 24 April 1915” published on the Bar Association website. 

The investigations for the TCK 301 require approval by the Justice Ministry. The ministry found that the remarks “Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were torn from their lands and were killed or left to die through the relocation supported and controlled by the Committee of Union and Progress,” warranted an investigation. 

The ministry however looked over the 2014 remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan included in the statement: “We wish that the Armenians who died due to conditions of the early 20th century rest in peace, and extend our condolences to their grandchildren.” 

The Bar Association interpreted the President’s remarks as “an important step to confront this dark history,” in their statement that is now subject to an investigation.

Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office called in the Bar Association executives for defense statements. The 11 bar officials rejected to give defenses and claimed that their statement fell under freedom of _expression_.

Deputy head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association Mehdi Özdemir said that the Justice Ministry allowed six investigations so far, four of which turned into lawsuits. The various Bar Association executives were acquitted in two of these cases. One case and two investigations are still ongoing. Özdemir stated another application to investigate the Bar Association’s 2023 Armenian Genocide statement had reached the Justice Ministry. 

Özdemir stated that the Penal Code Article 301 was infamously used to threaten everyone who voiced an opinion opposite to the official ideology of the government. He added, “We believe the enforced disappearances beginning with the 1915 Armenian Genocide and continuing with the 1937-38 Dersim Massacre are realities Turkey needs to face.”

“Unless we confront the truth, we cannot talk of real justice. We will continue defending this struggle for human rights as we honor our values and historical legacy,” said Özdemir.