Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict: How can peace be achieved?

In September 2023, Azerbaijan took control of Nagorny Karabakh, resulting in 104,000 Armenian Karabakhis self-evacuating within a matter of hours. This follows decades of violent conflict over the territory, which has received little international attention.

As negotiators from Armenia and Azerbaijan try to discuss a peace agreement, Alert’s Caucasus Director Marina Nagai joined Thomas de Waal, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe to give evidence at the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee session in response to the events of September 2023.

Marina Nagai gave evidence on the need for:

  • a comprehensive peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan
  • sustained international attention for the conflict-torn region
  • support for civil society peacebuilders

Addressing the drivers of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Nagai informed the committee that while it is positive that Armenia and Azerbaijan are talking, the peace agreement is far from the end of the journey toward peace. The agreement will not cover the border questions, or the fate of internally displaced people and refugees on both sides, so those major drivers of the conflict will remain.

When we talk about peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, I would say peace between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

Marina Nagai, Caucasus Director, International Alert

It is not only peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan that is needed, but peace between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Social attitudes and hatred toward the other side, dehumanisation and rejection of the humanity of the other side, is one of the main drivers of the conflict, said Nagai. Bringing those sides together will require more than signing a peace agreement, it will require work from both governments and civil society on both sides, and courage to challenge these deep-seated views.

Civil society are playing an important role in this, bringing Armenians and Azerbaijanis together in dialogue, which can support the peace process, but they need not only continued financial support, but also moral and political support from the outside world to continue this difficult task.

The committee also discussed the role multilateral and international institutions play in the conflict and what could be done to support sustainable peace, including through supporting economic interdependence between the two countries and a UNSC resolution on the conflict.

Watch the full session on Parliament Live TV for further insights.