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Armenia, Azerbaijan May Sign Peace Treaty by End of 2023

Azerbaijan and Armenia may sign a peace treaty by the end of the year, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said Tuesday, as the top diplomats of the two neighboring countries met to discuss the Karabakh settlement.

Pashinian named normalization between Azerbaijan and the Karabakh region as the condition for signing the treaty with Baku.

“If the Baku-Stepanakert (administrative center of Karabakh) dialogue begins … will this be an opportunity to sign a peace treaty before the end of the year? I think so,” he said at a news conference in Yerevan.

The probability of a clause in the treaty related to Karabakh, which will suit all parties, is very low, he said.

“If it were not for the low probability, peace would have already been made,” said Pashinian.

Work on the treaty is currently underway, however, a draft agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not ready to be signed, he noted.

The prime minister stressed that Armenia cannot decide the fate of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh – have to negotiate security guarantees in talks with Baku.

Asked about the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers from the region, Pashinian said it would be possible “when there is no threat to the lives of the people in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

He also called Russia’s position on the Karabakh problem “honest,” saying Armenia has been an independent state for 30 years but continues “to appeal to the Russian czar” when facing problems.

Commenting on talks Tuesday of the Armenia, Azerbaijani and Russian foreign ministers in Moscow, Pashinian said he expects they will be able to agree on several more points of the peace treaty and solutions will be found for the opening of the Lachin corridor.

The Armenian prime minister also stressed that Armenia cannot live in war conditions for a long time or it will return to the times when people did not have a state.

He also said to ensure security, Armenia is actively working to expand the list of countries where the republic buys weapons, and noted the defense minister visited France several times and expressed hope that the visits “will give a concrete result.”

Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian foreign ministers met on Tuesday in Moscow to discuss further steps regarding the Karabakh settlement.

Opening the meeting, Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov said Moscow stands for the respect and implementation of all the trilateral agreements among the three countries.

Russia is interested in peace and stability in the South Caucasus, he said, adding: “Our efforts aimed at the stabilization of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, seeking a solution of humanitarian problems, unblocking transport and economic ties, and development of contacts between people.”

For his part, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said although the negotiation process with Armenia is quite intensive, the results are not as expected and “there are more talks than results in settlement with Armenia.”

“However, it would be wrong to say that there are no positive results at all. Today we will have the possibility to exchange views on the entire range of issues. And traditionally in this format, we along with the Armenian side focus on the remaining articles of the peace treaty,” he noted.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that on some issues there are concrete results, on others “prospects are seen,” and there are also questions where the parties are “far from each other.”

Mirzoyan said the Armenian delegation’s attitude is “constructive,” but the establishment of an Azerbaijani border point on the Lachin road “complicates” the talks.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of fighting. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Despite ongoing talks on a peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries increased in recent months concerning the Lachin corridor – the only land route giving Armenia access to Karabakh.