December 7, 2023 will go down in history as the beginning of a new stage in the history of the South Caucasus. The stage of peaceful, mutually beneficial coexistence and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. On this day, the first ever bilateral statement by the administrations of the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia on their commitment to the complete settlement of relations and concrete steps towards each other was published.
Statements about the desire to improve relations between Baku and Yerevan were regularly voiced before, but they were made separately or in the presence of mediators (Russian authorities or Western politicians). This autumn, after the closure of the "Karabakh issue", Armenia moved to actively sabotage contacts with Russia, and officials in the West allowed themselves too many anti-Azerbaijani statements. Thus, the question of a bilateral dialogue without intermediaries arose with particular urgency: if no external platform suits both parties, which means they need to create their own.
The problem here was that Armenia had traditionally refused any bilateral contacts. Armenian politicians have always said that on a number of issues Yerevan could only talk to Baku through mediators, implying, of course, pro-Armenian politicians in the West. Nikol Pashinyan, Ararat Mirzoyan and others constantly emphasized that they wanted to achieve peace with Azerbaijan, sign a peace treaty as soon as possible, delimit the border and open communications, but did nothing for this and avoided meetings with the Azerbaijani leadership.
The day before, we saw that the bilateral dialogue was still underway and had results. So far, this is happening outside the public sphere, between representatives of the presidential and prime ministerial administrations, so be it. The main thing is that Yerevan has finally stopped ignoring direct negotiations as the most effective and prudent path to peace in the South Caucasus. According to the statement, Azerbaijan is making a much more generous step forward than Armenia, but it is important that the movement from the Armenian side has, in principle, started. Let's hope that the process does not stall and it will continue to develop quickly and positively for both states and the entire region. As President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly emphasized, there are no obstacles to a peace treaty, only political will is needed.
The signing of a peace treaty with guarantees that Yerevan will not return to the policy of revanchism, delimitation of the border with the return of the remaining territories in the Gazakh disctrict and exclaves, the construction of the Zangezur corridor and the opening of communications is the next stage.