Armenia PM proposes non-aggression pact to Azerbaijan

Armenia PM proposes non-aggression pact to Azerbaijan
The Armenian proposition comes following drawn out peace negotiations aimed at ending three decades of military hostility between the two states.
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Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev have been negotiating a peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan since Azerbaijan retook Nagorno-Karabkah in 2023 [Photo by VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Sunday that he has proposed the signing of a non-aggression pact to Azerbaijan, pending a comprehensive peace treaty between the arch-foe Caucasus neighbours.

Yerevan and Baku have fought two wars - in 2020 and in the 1990s - over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Azerbaijan recaptured in a lightning offensive last year.

"We have presented Azerbaijan with a proposal for a mutual arms control mechanism and the signing of a non-aggression pact if the signature of a peace treaty encounters delays," Pashinyan said in a speech during an Armenian Army Day celebration event.

He also said that Armenia - a longstanding ally of Russia which had voiced fears of Azerbaijani military moves against its territory - must revise its security arrangements.

"We need to reconsider our strategic thinking in the security sphere and diversify our [international] relations in that sphere," Pashinyan said.

"We are set to purchase new and modern weapons, and over the last years the government has signed contracts on arms procurement worth billions of dollars," he added.

Azerbaijan has denied having territorial claims to Armenia and ruled out a fresh conflict with its fellow ex-Soviet republic.

Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had previously said a peace agreement could have been signed by the end of the last year.

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But internationally mediated peace talks have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.

Stalled peace talks

Last month, Armenia and Azerbaijan swapped prisoners of war, a first step towards normalising relations.

The European Union, the United States as well as regional powers Turkey and Russia have praised the move as a "breakthrough."

The prisoner exchange raised hopes for reviving face-to-face talks between Pashinyan and Aliyev.

The pair have met several times for normalisation talks mediated by EU chief Charles Michel.

But the process has been on hold since October.

Traditional regional power broker Russia, bogged down with its dragging Ukraine offensive, has seen its influence wane in the Caucasus.

Aliyev sent troops to Karabakh on 19 September and after just one day of fighting Armenian separatists - who had controlled the region for three decades - surrendered and agreed to reintegrate with Baku.

But in December, separatist leader Samvel Shahramanyan said in Yerevan that his previous decree ordering the dissolution of separatist institutions was not valid.

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Almost the entire ethnic-Armenian population - more than 100,00 people - fled Karabakh for Armenia following Baku's takeover, sparking a refugee crisis.

Azerbaijan's victory in September marked the end of the territorial dispute, which had long been seen as unresolvable.