Armenia and Azerbaijan consider peace talks as violence in Artsakh escalates

A sign reading I love Khramort (Hunan Tadevosyan, February 26)

While violence escalates in Artsakh, Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities have exchanged statements on initiating peace talks.

Human Rights Defender of Artsakh Gegham Stepanyan has appealed to the international community to take action against Azerbaijan’s escalated aggression targeting the civilian Armenian population of Artsakh. He said that while Azerbaijan’s authorities have pursued tactics to intimidate the Armenian population of Artsakh since the end of the 2020 war, their actions have intensified in recent days, as Azerbaijan’s military is now targeting civilian communities using large caliber grenade launchers and mortars, weapons that have not been deployed since the war. 

“The deliberate and coordinated actions of the Azerbaijani authorities are aimed at evicting Armenians from Artsakh and pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing,” Stepanyan said in the March 15 video broadcast.

Azerbaijan’s military fired on the villages of Khramort and Nakhichanik of the Askeran region and the villages of Khnushinak and Karmir Shuka of the Martuni region in Artsakh on March 9, according to Artsakh officials. Last month, videos spread on social media depicting Azerbaijani forces ordering Armenian civilians to evacuate border villages in Artsakh by loudspeaker. Later videos depict broadcasts of calls to prayer, the Azerbaijani national anthem and selections from an Azerbaijani opera. 

Artsakh Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan

Meanwhile, Stepanyan says that restoration work began on Wednesday on the primary pipeline supplying gas to Artsakh from Armenia. The entire population of Artsakh was left without gas in sub-zero temperatures, compromising access to heating and hot water and forcing schools and medical centers to close, after Azerbaijan’s authorities prohibited Armenian crews from accessing the damaged section of the pipeline for over a week. The pipeline runs through an area under the control of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces near Shushi. 

Tensions along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border have also intensified in the past week, with reports of renewed gunfire. Armenian soldier Hrach Arami Manasaryan died from a gunshot wound on March 7 after the Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire on Armenian military posts along the western part of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The United States mission to the OSCE released a statement mourning Manasaryan’s death and calling for “greater restraint, for forces to distance themselves from each other in the contested border areas, and for intensified diplomatic engagement to find comprehensive solutions to all outstanding issues.”

Yerevan-based analyst Tigran Grigoryan said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered this latest round of violence. “Azerbaijan is using the small window of opportunity created by the war in Ukraine to reach some tactical goals on the ground. Baku is also testing Russia’s red lines and limitations in Nagorno-Karabakh in this new geopolitical reality. Azerbaijan will surely keep on trying to further exploit Moscow’s weaknesses if the Russian war effort in Ukraine lasts for too long,” he wrote

Meanwhile, Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities have said in recent days that they are preparing to launch a negotiation process on signing a peace agreement. 

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan told Armenpress news agency on March 11 that Armenia will “probably soon apply” to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to initiate peace talks with Azerbaijan. 

Later that day, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that Baku had sent a proposal to Yerevan listing five principles that must precede the normalization of relations between the two countries. “If Armenia sincerely wants to normalize relations, then this is a very good opportunity for them,” Bayramov told Anadolu Agency. 

On March 14, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry publicized the five principles, which include mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual affirmation of the absence of territorial claims to each other and a legally binding obligation not to make such claims in the future, refraining from threatening each other’s security, delimitation and demarcation of the border and unblocking of communication and transport links. 

That day, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced that it had responded to the proposals from Azerbaijan and applied to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to “organize negotiations on the signing of a peace agreement” between the two countries “on the basis of the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act.” 

In an interview with Armenpress on March 15, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that “every negotiation on a peace treaty must be held without preconditions.” 

He also said that the principles set forth in the proposal do not address all of the existing problems in the region, namely the status of Artsakh and the rights and freedoms of the Armenians who reside there. “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not a territorial issue, but a matter of rights,” he said. 

Olesya Vartanyan, senior South Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group, said that the exchange of official statements between Armenia and Azerbaijan “indicates that no resumption of the official talks is in sight.” “This is because they publicly revealed the details of weeks and months of discussions on how to return to negotiations,” she tweeted

Anar Mammadli, a human rights activist from Azerbaijan, criticized the five-point proposal and called for a “comprehensive roadmap for peacebuilding” from the Azerbaijani government. “This should include the terms of peace with Armenia, the investigation of war crimes, demining of the region, joint study and protection of historical and cultural monuments, ensuring the security of the Armenians of Karabakh and other issues,” he wrote on Facebook. 

Amid accusations of ceasefire violations by the Azerbaijani military, rumors have also been spreading in the Azerbaijani media criticizing the efficacy of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh.

An article published in the pro-government Report.az on March 7 blamed the Russian peacekeepers for failing to prevent ceasefire violations in Artsakh, which it attributes to the Armenian side. 

“Considering that only Russian peacekeepers are deployed on the territory of Azerbaijan, it means that the responsibility for monitoring compliance with the ceasefire regime lies entirely with them. That is, the peacekeepers either do not cope with the functions assigned to them, or simply connive with the Armenians,” the article reads

The article further accuses the Russian peacekeepers of “abusing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine” to arm Armenians in Artsakh. 

An article published on the same day in military news website Caliber.az accused head of the Russian peacekeeping contingent Andrei Volkov of abusing his position and engaging in corrupt business practices in Artsakh, for which the article provides no evidence. 

Rumors have also spread that Russian peacekeepers are leaving Artsakh for Ukraine. Videos disseminated on social media in Azerbaijan show a column of Russian military vehicles traveling along the Lachin corridor. Another article from Caliber.az, published on March 9, speculated that the Russian peacekeepers are “being redeployed to Ukraine,” once again without providing any evidence. 

According to another version, part of the Russian peacekeeping forces will be redeployed to the 102nd military base at Gyumri, and soldiers at that base will in turn be sent to help the Russian army in Ukraine,” the article reads

The Artsakh Security Council denied these rumors, stating that the Russian peacekeeping force “continues conducting its mission based on the provisions of the 2020 November 9 trilateral statement.” 

The Russian mission in Artsakh, which has not issued a single press release since January 26, has not commented on the accusations.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.

12 Comments

  1. Azerbaijan violates ceasefires and agreements to pressure
    Armenia to a “peace” deal( code for surrender).
    Time for Armenia to establish self-respect. Declare to Azerbaijan that there will be no peace talks until there is a complete cessation of violations and troop infringements.
    Wanting respect starts with self respect.

  2. Too late. The useless pretender, loser traitor Pashinyan, already gave up Artsakh. He wont even go there at the request of Azerbaijan, as that is who he takes orders from. He already declared these lands “as not ours”. He is all too gleeful and joyous that his incompetent war effort and lies, resulted in a major loss to the Armenian race and can now more freely implement his “great giveaway” as a means for “prosperity and peace”. And of course he will blame it all on others, the past, and everyone else but himself. UNITY IS THE ANSWER. ONE ARMENIA, ARTSAKH AND DIASPORA. The sooner we all rid the centuries old tribal mentality with its divisions, the better. The sooner we rid incompetent losers like Pashinyan the better.

    • What makes you believe that Pashinyan isn’t that guy?

      The lands that went back to Azerbaijan (with the exception of Sushi) were considered to be a buffer zone to Artsakh.

      Kocharyan and Sargsyan weren’t going to give back anything because they were soldiers who fought in the war. Which I can understand. But this is no longer 1989-94.

      Do you honestly believe everything in the press with the war in Ukraine? There seems to be a lot of similarities between these wars.

    • @ Peter, “Azerbaijan” is a made up fictitious gas station nation invented by European bankers that invested heavily in Caspian oil. They propped up the CUP in 1908 and facilitated the Armenian genocide. they didn’t want any hinderance to free flowing newly found black gold and so dressed as Turks decided upon the final Armenian solution. We know who these bankers are. Same people that deny the Armenia genocide till this day. The Treaty of Kars is also fictitious. Do you believe that Nakichivan is Azeri? It isn’t. Just more Asian invading Turkish tribes squatting on ancient Armenian lands via rape murder and theft pretending to be victims and waitingh for the perfect opportunity to rid the rest of what’s left of Armenia..

      As for Sargysyan and Kocharyan, I agree are equal traitors as they rigged elections and ran the country like their personal bank account, stealing and robbing Armenians because they could. This led to mass exodus. No excuses. However, they actually fought and liberated Armenian lands and if not would have seen complete destruction of the entire race. Remember the pogroms in Baku and Sumgaite? I do. Not only that they held these lands for 30 years and the people prospered and were stable. Also, its not that they didn’t want to compromise abut rather wanted Azerbaijan to acknowledge Artsakh as free and NOT PART of Azerbaijan. Something the Asian parasite didn’t want to ever entertain. Its no coincidence that as soon as the ultra useless incompetent loser traitor Pashinyan came to power that a war effort of the worst kind resulted in one of the worst run wars ever, with the Armenian Army disassembled and in kaos, lands lost and the death of 4500 Armenian souls. And with Armenians currently being held as Azeri prisoners while he released Azeri murderers with nothing in exchange. Azerbaijan is currently inside Armenia proper. That’s the guy you like? No thanks. ITS ALL HIS DOING. Bears TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY. Unity is the answer. One Armenia, Artsakh and diaspora all working as one. This is nothing the loser incompetent will ever entertain. Needs to be rid.

    • I love how you use “unity” but because I’m “pro-pashinyan”my thoughts are void?

      30 years went by with negotiations and nothing got solved. Everyone is responsible for what happened.

      That’s like saying George W. Bush was solely responsible for the 2008 Mortgage Collapse. The 2008 Mortgage Collapse goes back to Clinton era with the Affordable Housing Act.

    • @ Peter, 4500 Armenian souls were murdered BECAUSE of the pure incompetence of the current PM that is IN CHARGE. I’m not in charge. Do not blame me. I’m a patriot. Stop including “all of us”. Just another way to excuse the useless loser.

      BTW The Equal Housing Act NEVER EVER said anything about giving away free loans for nothing, no documentation needed. Have you ever read it? The real disaster came during George W’s tenure when he deregulated banks, allowing them to write toxic undocumented loans, a historical first, and sell them just to be able to then hedge against them in the form of derivative securities. Leaving disaster in its wake. His father did the same on August 9, 1989, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act is signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in the wake of the Savings and Loan Crisis. Ween off Fox please. Its registered as entertainment not news. Its a tool to fool the masses for the benefit of the richest few on this planet.

  3. Russia is getting away with murdering Ukrainian people with no controls on Russia. So Azerbaijan believes it can do the same with Armenians. No country has gone to the defense of Armenians in the past, I believe, and will not now?

    • Getting away?
      First of all, they’re not “murdering” Ukrainians. They have avoided urban combat, unlike the American carpet bombing in 2003.
      Second of all, Azerbaijan has been doing this since before Putin came to power. Stop with this Western centric view as everything revolving around “big bad Putin.”

  4. Very true. Why should anyone or any country should help Armenia and Armenians. Why?
    Because we have got no respect for ourselves. And look at Diaspora in so many pieces. There has to be a decision making process and taking action to influence the situations and circumstances. We can influence the situations that are forced upon us. But we need leaders in the Armenia but especially in the Diaspora with courage and strength of character to make decisions and take actions. We know what language Azeris understand. We don’t cut ears of people but they do. We have to remember what ROSDOM said, we have to work “miayn kordz” khoskere barab en yerp kordz chiga. And lets also remember the great Shahan Natali’s words which I am not going to put it here. we are going through a time where we need to bring back our real character. Just take action.

    • West NAT0 US EU UN Responsible genocide made by them against christians serbians and with their help artficial states created name called Kosovo and Bosnia and European Countries recognize them.so how we armenians wait help from west while armenians suffer in middle east meanwhile arabs turks afghans enjoy freedom in europe you tell me ?

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