The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, two countries still technically at war, will meet in Vienna today to discuss a way forward on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighbouring Armenia. Ethnic Armenians constitute a majority of the territory’s population, while only about 1% of the country’s total population is Armenian. However, the UN has passed five resolutions recognising the disputed land as Azerbaijani territory.
Today, international concern over Nagorno-Karabakh centres on the failure of recent mediation efforts, increased militarization from both Armenian and Azerbaijani forces and frequent cease-fire violations.
Expectations of progress on this frozen conflict are low. In the three latest rounds of negotiations since May 2018, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan has proposed initiatives on how to resolve the 28-year-old conflict.
While the conflict appears dormant, successful negotiations today could prevent a future flare in tensions. A military provocation from either side still risks escalation similar to that of 1994, when fighting between the two sides was at its most violent. While unlikely, successful negotiations could address the protection of the important oil exports the region provides to Europe and Central Asia—approximately 800,000 barrels a day.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.