The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran have joined efforts to prevent a new war between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, where both sides have accused the other of violating a two-day-old cease-fire, informed Ahram Online.
A ceasefire between key oil and gas players in the Caspian region, Azerbaijan and Armenia, was signed on April 5th putting an end to a renewed conflict that erupted over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region and has killed at least 64 people. The deal was concluded at a meeting between Armenian and Azeri Chiefs of General Staff in Moscow, Reuters informed, citing Armenia’s Defense Minister as saying.
The Caspian region has rich oil and gas reserves that regional countries want to export to Europe. However, there are only two export routes: the northwestern one through Russia; and the southwestern across the Caucasus. The two routes pass near the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, therefore any escalating conflict could have a wider impact, Radio Free Liberty wrote.
In fact, emerging disputes may affect neighboring countries and their oil and gas clients, because Armenia has a military pact with Russia, while Azerbaijan has its own security arrangements with Turkey. Further, any widening conflict could endanger both the involved players and Europe’s hopes of tapping the Caspian region to reduce its dependence upon Russian energy sources.
Backed by Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh region declared independence from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed, followed by a bloody war that left about 30,000 dead and an unclear future for the territory. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but years of negotiations under the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have failed to yield a long-term political solution to the conflict. Sporadic fighting has continued along the “line of contact” between the two sides, though never with the ferocity seen just before the ceasefire deal, The Sidney Morning Herald explained.