On Thursday, March 23, 2023, Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, announced that a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan will be established based on joint official statements adopted at the highest level. The Prime Minister emphasized that the agreement will prevent any new escalation between the two countries and urged the international community to support the peace agreement.
In response to the development, the US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson, Vedant Patel, expressed encouragement regarding the progress made towards lasting and sustainable peace in the South Caucasus. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is also involved in facilitating peace discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been independent ex-Soviet states for over 30 years and have engaged in two wars during this time. The major point of contention between the two countries has been the control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave of Karabakh, which has led to the loss of thousands of lives.
Although a fragile truce has been in force between Armenia and Azerbaijan since a 2020 war that resulted in more than 6,500 deaths and forced Armenia to cede territories it had controlled for decades, recent events indicate ongoing tensions. For instance, there was gunfire exchange between Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan’s contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which resulted in the death of at least five people.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry claimed that two servicemen were killed after Azerbaijani troops stopped a convoy suspected of carrying weapons from the region’s main town to outlying areas. However, Armenia’s foreign ministry stated that three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed, and the convoy had only been carrying documents and a service pistol. Armenia dismissed Azerbaijani allegations of weapons being carried as “absurd” and described Azerbaijan’s version of events as a “provocation planned in advance and instructed by the top leadership,” according to Al Jazeera.
The ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan highlight the challenges that both countries face in finding a peaceful resolution to their longstanding conflict.