Armenia offers peace treaty project to Azerbaijan

Armenia has presented Azerbaijan with a project for a full treaty to end the decades-long dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.

The two former Soviet republics have been locked in a state of conflict over the mountainous area, which lies in but whose population is largely Armenian.

An agreement would provide for monitoring mechanisms by both sides to prevent breaches of the deal, said Pashinyan.

He told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that Yerevan had completed “another stage of working on a project of a treaty and on establishing [diplomatic] relations” with Baku.

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“A project of a comprehensive agreement had been handed to ,” he said.

“The document has to be acceptable to Azerbaijan … its signing must bring about a lasting peace.”

Copies were sent to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members Russia, the United States and France. These countries are co-chairs of the Minsk Group set up by the OSCE in 1992 to seek a peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict.

The two Caucasus neighbours have fought two wars for control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave that have claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Internationally-mediated peace talks between the countries have since produced little result.

Last month, Russia blamed Armenia for a breakdown in peace talks with Azerbaijan, in the latest sign of friction between Moscow and Yerevan over the conflict.

Thursday’s announcement came after Yerevan accused Baku of conducting a “policy of ethnic cleansing” and forcing ethnic Armenians to leave the breakaway region.

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Since mid-December, a group of self-styled Azerbaijani environmental activists has barred the only road linking Karabakh to Armenia to protest what they say is illegal mining.

According to Yerevan, the blockade has led to a “full-blown humanitarian crisis” in the mountainous region which faces shortages of food, medicines, and fuel.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. About 30,000 people were killed in the ensuing conflict.

Another flare-up in violence in 2020 killed more than 6,500 people and ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Armenia cede territories it had controlled for decades.

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