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Improving Prospects for Peace after the Nagorno-Karabakh War

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Russian mediation succeeded in ending the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh but left much unresolved, chiefly the region’s future status. If the cessation of hostilities is to become a sustainable peace, the parties should start by cooperating on humanitarian relief and trade before tackling larger questions.

What’s new? A Russian-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended a six-week war in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan regained most of the territory it lost to Armenian forces in the first war, which ended in 1994. Russian peacekeepers have deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Why does it matter? Decades of failed negotiations after the first Nagorno-Karabakh war hardened positions on both sides, which culminated in 2020’s six weeks of bloodshed. Today, the ceasefire plan leaves many questions unanswered, including the crucial issue of Nagorno Karabakh’s status, but immediate efforts to force compromise on that risk backfiring.

What should be done? Rather than seek an elusive comprehensive agreement, parties and stakeholders should prioritise humanitarian needs and international support to rebuild infrastructure and forge cooperative ways forward, including through commerce. Of outside actors, Russia will play the lead role, but success is more likely if Europe, the U.S. and multilateral institutions contribute.