Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev have agreed to meet in Brussels on April 6th to begin another round of talks over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh.
With Russia’s military bogged down in Ukraine observers say Azerbaijan has recently sensed an opportunity and has been stepping up its incursions in the region. Internationally it’s recognised as Azerbaijan’s, but since 1994 it’s been controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union and retain ties with Moscow.
In the last incursion, Russia and Armenia say Azeri forces crossed over into an area controlled by Russian peacekeepers last week and seized the strategic village of Parukh.
In the nearby village of Khramort Euronews talked to Anahit Grigoryan, an ethnic Armenian woman who had fled Parukh.
“The enemy came and tried to enter our village. First, they called on us to leave the area via loudspeakers, saying “You are in the territory of Azerbaijan, if you think about the lives of your children, obey our laws, leave this territory,” she said.
Now other ethnic Armenians worry about Russia’s ability to maintain the ceasefire that it brokered in the region after the war in 2020.
And reports suggest some of the 2,000 or so Russian peacekeepers that control a ceasefire line have left for Ukraine.
Moscow denies this and says it’s taking steps to reduce the tensions.
Regional politics are also a factor: whilst Azerbaijan has a powerful regional ally in Turkey, Armenia and Turkey have distrusted each other for decades.
In 2020 Turkey sold game-changing military drones to Azerbaijan and in just six weeks it routed Armenia, seizing large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. Around six thousand people were killed in the fighting.
Turkey has never admitted to carrying out a genocide between 1915 and 1917 that killed between 500,000 and 1.5 million ethnic Armenians and the border with Armenia remains closed.