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Is there need for peacekeepers to stay in S Caucasus? [ANALYSIS]

31 December 2023 18:00 (UTC+04:00)
Is there need for peacekeepers to stay in S Caucasus? [ANALYSIS]
Abbas Ganbay
Abbas Ganbay
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After thirty years of occupation, Azerbaijan has set the goal of fulfilling serious obligations. This inevitable goal served both the complete restoration of territorial integrity and the prevention of terrorism in the country - and finally, Azerbaijan was able to achieve its goal.

On September 20, 2023, separatism and terrorism were completely eliminated after the anti-terrorist measures that lasted only 23 hours. However, there is still an outstanding question: Is there a need for a peacekeeping contingent to monitor the situation in Garabagh?

Azerbaijan as a result of the Second Garabagh War liberated 10 thousand square kilometres out of 13 thousand square kilometres under occupation for 30 years, where on the remaining three thousand square kilometres the Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed until November 2025. The Russian peacekeeping troops deployed in the region were to ensure the security of civilians and the region, according to a trilateral declaration signed on 10 November 2020, and with the arrival of the Russian peacekeeping troops, separatist formations deployed in the region were to leave the territory.

Azerbaijan stated that it does not enter this territory where peaceful Armenians live in order not to harm the peaceful population and to show humanity. As President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said, from now on this issue will be resolved peacefully.

Even though 3 years have already passed since the adoption of the tripartite statement, the separatist clan continued to arrive in the region using armed forces as an instrument of diplomatic negotiations. Separatist clans continued to carry out construction works, infiltrated the liberated territories, and continued to lay mines. From 10 November 2020 to 11 September 2023, 306 people were injured by mines in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan.
The last mine incident on 18 September, prompted Azerbaijan to launch an anti-terrorist event on 19 September 2023. Azerbaijani army accomplished the task in 24 hours, eradicating and disarming the separatist clan and liberating the territories from them.

Azerbaijan's agenda is to achieve peace in the South Caucasus and sign a peace treaty with Armenia, marking the end of the 200th conflict between the neighbours.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin said in a recent interview that Russia is resolving with Azerbaijan the issue of peacekeepers in Garabagh, and the possible extension of their stay in the region.
"Russia after the agreement of the Armenian leadership to recognise Garabagh's belonging to Azerbaijan is considering with the Azerbaijani side all issues on the stay of its peacekeepers in the region," the Russian diplomat said.

M.Galuzin said that since the document has not been cancelled yet, Russian peacekeepers should stay in the region until November 2025.

"The situation has changed a lot after Yerevan decided to recognise the region as Azerbaijani territory." The relevant decision was consolidated at a summit under the auspices of the European Union, starting with a meeting in Prague in October 2022." Galuzin added.

Azerbaijani political analyst Farhad Mammadov believes that the 4th clause of the agreement is exactly about this, and Russia has latched on to this clause of the statement making it work in Russia’s favour.
"However, Mr Galuzin, along with mentioning the possibility of prolonging RPC's stay, did not mention the formula for RPC's withdrawal from Garabagh.

The Trilateral Statement is important for Azerbaijan in at least three circumstances:

- Armenia recognised the presence of its Armed Forces on Azerbaijani territory and has to withdraw them;
- Armenia undertook to provide communication to Nakhchivan;
- The statement stipulates the mechanism of RPC's withdrawal from Azerbaijan.

According to the expert, Baku will not withdraw from the trilateral statement, and if Armenia wants to withdraw, it should get Baku's support, and for this purpose, the bilateral document should recognise the fact of occupation of Azerbaijani territories and renew the obligation to provide communications to Nakhchivan.

In total, 12 observation and 16 temporary observation posts of Russian peacekeepers have been shut down since 19 September this year. The big question is why Armenia has not provided any conditions for the implementation of the projects during the last three years. Following the Tripartite Statement of 10 November 2020, Armenia should provide access from the western regions of Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan, and facilitate the opening of the Zangazur corridor.

In addition, peace talks also mean the restoration and development of economic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as between Armenia and Turkiye. It also serves as a guarantor for the overall prosperity and security of the region.

As for the monitoring of the situation by any peacekeeping unit in the region, the expert said: "The need for Russia's peacekeeping contingent in the region may cease to exist in the near future."

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Abbas Ganbay is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @Noend33

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