Expert on Azerbaijani-Armenian Peace Agreement: "A Symbolic Act of Humanitarian Nature"

In a joint statement, it was announced that as a result of negotiations between the Azerbaijani President's administration and the Armenian Prime Minister's office, a decision has been made to release 32 Armenian soldiers by Azerbaijan and two Azerbaijani soldiers by Armenia.

08/12/2023 - 14:21
Source: Sputnik
Source: Sputnik

On Thursday evening, Azerbaijan and Armenia announced an agreement on a prisoner exchange and steps towards a peace deal, reported by Sarbaz.kz citing BBC.

According to Azerbaijan's state news agency Azertag, among those being handed over are 26 individuals detained in December 2020 after the conclusion of the 44-day war in the Gadroot district of Nagorno-Karabakh, and six others detained at different times at the border. It is crucial to note that among those released are no leaders of the unrecognized republic, arrested this autumn.

In Azerbaijan's custody are former presidents, interior ministers, army commanders of Nagorno-Karabakh, and other high-ranking officials. Civilian individuals are also involved in the exchange.

Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in peace talks mediated by the European Union, the United States, and Russia, but this agreement signifies direct consent between the parties, making it a crucial step in resolving the conflict.

The International Crisis Group emphasizes the significance of the agreement in terms of humanitarian actions coordinated between the two sides without the involvement of a third party and expresses hope for the resumption of peace talks between Baku and Yerevan, which have been on hold for the past few months.

According to international relations expert Ilyas Baktygaliyev, it is important to note that among the 32 prisoners handed over by Azerbaijan, 28 were captured during the 2020 escalation, and among them, there are no leaders of the now-defunct Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

"For Azerbaijan, this is a pivotal moment; the leaders of the unrecognized republic will be tried under Azerbaijani law as individuals engaged in separatist activities within the country's territory. Therefore, there are currently no hopes of evading punishment for the top leadership of Karabakh. Armenia itself recognized Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory, so it lacks legal grounds to demand the return of the NKR leadership. Overall, the prisoner exchange can be seen as a symbolic act of humanitarian nature aimed at further pacifying the region," Baktygaliyev told Sarbaz.kz.

This time might lay a good foundation for long-term peace. Azerbaijan has achieved its main geostrategic goal; the separatist statehood is now definitively eliminated, hence setting a precedent for a new conflict is exhausted. The leadership of both countries is ready to move towards an official peace treaty. Yet, according to the expert's perspective, there remain long-term risks against the backdrop of Armenia's military and political weakness; its current fragile state may become a temptation for a new war, right within the territory of this republic. Additionally, one shouldn't rule out revanchist sentiments in Armenia in case of a radical change in the country's leadership.

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