The road would connect the main portion of Azerbaijan to both its western enclave, known as Nakhchivan, as well as to Turkey. Experts fear that if it is built, Azerbaijan could soon move to wrest control of all of Syunik.
Though Aliyev has not yet addressed the issue of peace with Armenia, the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey met in Iran on Monday to discuss a treaty, according to reporting by Reuters. Also present at the talk were the foreign ministers of Iran and Russia.
On Tuesday the Azeri Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement that said: “Minister Jeyhun Bayramov noted that there are real chances for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia in a short period of time.”
The statement said that peace would be possible “after Azerbaijan fully ensures control over its sovereign territories as a result of the anti-terrorist measures implemented against the illegal Armenian armed forces, which have not been withdrawn from the territory of Azerbaijan in violation of the obligations.”
Why are they fighting?
Both former Soviet territories, Armenia and Azerbaijan have contested the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is also known as “Artsakh,” for decades.
They fought two major wars over the region, the first from 1988 to 1994 and the second in 2020.
Though internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh continued to claim self-sovereignty and governance under the auspices of the “Republic of Artsakh.”
All that came to an end, however, after the Azeri military’s September strike this year. According to the Armenian government, 101,848 ethnic Armenians — that is, more than 84% of the total 120,000 Nagorno-Karabakh population — have fled since the Azeri takeover.
The Azeri government has arrested many high-ranking Artsakh leaders, including former state minister Ruben Vardanyan, and several former presidents such as Arayik Harutyunyan and Bako Sahakyan. All have been imprisoned in the Azeri capital city Baku and are being charged with war crimes and treason.
Human rights activists and humanitarian aid organizations have accused the Azeri government of ethnically cleansing Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh. Survivors of the conflict and of the ensuing mass exodus have accused Azerbaijan of human rights violations including cultural and religious persecution.
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Since the takeover, the two nations have continued to exchange fire and have been involved in small skirmishes along their borders.