Azerbaijan ready for peace talks with Armenia amid new tensions

Baku responds to Yerevan’s call for negotiation of a comprehensive peace treaty amid new tensions over the long-contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan has said it is ready for peace talks with Armenia, after Yerevan urged Baku to negotiate a comprehensive peace treaty amid new tensions over the long-contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“If Armenia is serious about a peace agreement, then concrete steps have to be made. We repeat that Azerbaijan is ready for this,” the foreign ministry in Baku said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ministry said Azerbaijan had proposed that the two countries hold peace talks a year ago.

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh which killed more than 6,500 people.

A ceasefire deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin saw Armenia cede swaths of territory to Azerbaijan and Moscow deploy a peacekeeping contingent to the mountainous region.

Last week, Yerevan and Moscow accused Baku of violating a ceasefire in the Russian contingent’s zone of responsibility.

They accused Azerbaijan’s forces of capturing the village of Farukh in the Askeran region of Karabakh, where three Armenian soldiers were killed in a shoot-out last week.

A service member of the Russian peacekeeping troops stands next to a tank near the border with Armenia in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh [File: Francesco Brembati/Reuters]

Baku rejected the accusation, insisting the area was part of its internationally-recognised territory.

On Monday, Armenia’s security council accused Azerbaijan of “preparing the ground for fresh provocations and an offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh”. It urged Baku to “immediately start talks on a comprehensive peace treaty”.

Armenia also demanded an investigation into the Russian peacekeeping contingent’s actions during Azerbaijan’s “incursion” and urged the Russian forces to take “concrete steps” to diffuse tensions.

A significant flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh could pose a challenge for Moscow, at a time when tens of thousands of Russian troops are engaged in Ukraine.

Moscow has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh and a land corridor linking it with Armenia.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict killed about 30,000 people.

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