Azerbaijan and Armenia: where will peace agreement be signed?

Politics Analytics 6 January 2024 14:57 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan and Armenia: where will peace agreement be signed?
Elchin Alioghlu
Elchin Alioghlu
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 6. Armenia declares its readiness to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, Trend reports.

When, where, and under what conditions will this document be signed?

The resolution of "neither war nor peace" situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the beginning of normalization of interstate relations, restoration of ties and communications, opening of new routes – all these processes depend on the outcome of the final peace agreement.

The document can be signed soon, unless there are new provocations from foreign states, especially France, and serious destructive pressure on Yerevan.

Most obstacles in the signing process of the peace agreement have been removed, and solutions to some problems have been found. Now everything depends on the political will of the Armenian leadership.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has not changed his previous rhetoric. He does not consider it effective to sign a peace agreement without international guarantees. Pashinyan believes that the guarantors of the document he will sign with Baku must be either the US, France, or the European Union.

Although such a guarantee is unnecessary. The peace agreement to be signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia is essentially a framework document confirming the readiness of the parties to build further relations within the framework of international law. There is no need for guarantees from the US, the European Union, France, or Russia for a document that emphasizes that relations will be based on fundamental principles and basic norms of international law.

After signing the agreement by Baku and Yerevan, as well as completing the corresponding ratification procedures in the parliaments of both countries, the document is registered and approved at the UN.

The peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia can be signed by the foreign ministers.

Baku considers the most effective option to be coordinating the treaty directly with Yerevan through bilateral negotiations and discussions, followed by signing it in Tbilisi. Since the political elites of Armenia, not interested in strengthening Georgia in the region geopolitically, and at the same time not daring to violate the diplomatic course prescribed by the European Union and France, are likely to reject the Tbilisi option and insist on signing the document in Brussels.

Russia does not consider any of these options acceptable. Not by chance, at the end of last year, both the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the country's president Vladimir Putin reminded about the trilateral statement signed on November 10, 2020, emphasizing that this document contributed to the end of the second Karabakh war.

By this, Russia signaled to Yerevan that it insists on having the peace agreement signed in Moscow. At the same time, Russia also wants to present the Moscow option as a regional platform, holding consultations with Türkiye and Iran regarding the process of signing the specified document. Armenia is likely to reject Moscow's proposal, as its patrons ask Armenia to sign the document in one of the Western countries. Washington and Brussels are the possible options.

Iran's recent activation is evident in attempts to influence processes in the South Caucasus: Tehran is suggested as the place where the final version of the peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan will be approved and signed. For Baku, this option is not desirable since Iran has a negative track record of implementing peacekeeping missions and conducting negotiations under its mediation. Considering that the investigation into the bloody terrorist attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran hasn't been completed, and the embassy has not resumed its activities, Iran's proposal is not suitable for Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Armenia plans to sign an agreement with Türkiye on opening the borders, restoring transportation communications, reestablishing diplomatic relations, etc. Thus, Istanbul or Ankara are also among the potential places where the peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan can be signed.

The likelihood of signing the agreement in Istanbul increases against the background of reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will make an official visit to Türkiye this year. However, it's clear that the European Union won't consider the Istanbul option acceptable, and France, with strong and uncompromising protests, will exert pressure on Armenia.

Since Armenia does not conduct an independent diplomatic course, Pashinyan's government will have to take into account the demands of its patrons who support, finance, and arm its army, as well as states that fuel Armenian revanchism. However, Pashinyan understands that full compliance with the demands of patrons may get Armenia involved in a new war, putting an end to Armenian statehood. Yerevan's harsh messages to the former leader of the Armenian separatists in Azerbaijan's Karabakh, Samvel Shahramanyan, who fled to Armenia, are connected precisely with this.

Acting under the dictate and scenario of external forces, Shahramanyan was preparing to announce that the document on the dissolution of all structures of the separatist junta from January 1, 2024, "has no legal force and legitimacy". However, Pashinyan and his team understand that the activities of separatist structures in the country, such as Armenian residents of Karabakh who voluntarily moved from Azerbaijan to Armenia, including puppet structures called the "government and parliament in exile", will be considered a direct threat to the territorial integrity, border immunity, and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.

In this case, Baku would be forced to take necessary, adequate steps within the basic principles of international law, and Armenians don't believe that these steps will limit with political statements.

Baku is patient, but Armenia should not forget how Azerbaijan prevents threats to itself and its citizens when its patience runs out. Yerevan is now facing a choice. If the choice is made incorrectly, the result could be very disappointing.

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