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Peace at Last in the South Caucasus?

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory that has fueled two wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Will his olive branch lead to a permanent settlement?

BISHKEK – On April 18, while speaking to his country’s parliament, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan acknowledged Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed province at the heart of a protracted conflict between the two countries. Pashinyan’s brevity belied the magnitude of his statement.

After explaining that peace in the South Caucasus is possible only if Armenia accepts internationally recognized borders (according to which Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan), Pashinyan confirmed that “the Republic of Armenia fully recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and we expect Azerbaijan to do the same.” He also stressed that Armenia must affirmatively renounce territorial claims against other countries, and that Armenian society must internalize this stance.

It was an extraordinary speech, not least because it offered an outstretched hand to Azerbaijan, which has asserted time and again that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a domestic matter.

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