The long-standing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, located in the South Caucasus region, has been a source of tension for decades. From 1988 to 1994, and again in the fall of 2020, the two countries engaged in a bitter and protracted war. Although a cease-fire was declared in 2020, the absence of an official peace treaty continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over the region. The European Union (EU) now faces concerns that Russia may attempt to undermine a lucrative gas deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, further exacerbating the delicate geopolitical situation.
The Lingering Conflict and Unresolved Issues
One of the primary challenges in the region is the status of Karabakh, a mountainous area in Azerbaijan. Currently patrolled by Russian peacekeepers, Karabakh holds significance for both Azerbaijan and Armenia, as ethnic Armenians residing there are reluctant to become Azerbaijani citizens. This territorial dispute, rooted in historical and ethnic complexities, dates back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Despite the recent cease-fire, the absence of an official peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia continues to fuel tensions. The lack of a comprehensive resolution creates uncertainties regarding the future governance and status of Karabakh, keeping the wounds of the past open and hindering progress towards lasting peace and stability.
The Gas Deal and Russian Interference Concerns
In the midst of these ongoing challenges, a lucrative gas deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia has emerged as a potential economic lifeline for both countries. The agreement aims to facilitate the transportation of Azerbaijani natural gas to Armenia, reducing its reliance on Russian energy supplies. This diversification of energy sources would not only enhance Armenia’s energy security but also contribute to its economic development.
However, the EU has expressed concerns over potential Russian interference in the gas deal. Given Russia’s historical influence in the region, the EU fears that Moscow may seek to obstruct or manipulate the agreement to maintain its control over Armenia’s energy sector. The EU recognizes the significance of diversifying energy sources and reducing dependence on Russia, not only for Armenia but also for regional stability and security.
The Role of the EU and International Efforts
The European Union plays a crucial role in promoting dialogue and peace-building efforts in the South Caucasus. Through diplomatic channels, the EU seeks to encourage constructive negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia to achieve a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict. By facilitating dialogue and providing support for confidence-building measures, the EU aims to create an environment conducive to peaceful coexistence and cooperation.
In the context of the gas deal, the EU can utilize its diplomatic influence to help safeguard the agreement from external interference. By actively engaging with all stakeholders and emphasizing the importance of energy diversification, the EU can contribute to the successful implementation of the gas deal and support Armenia’s efforts to reduce its energy dependence.
The unresolved conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia continues to pose challenges in the South Caucasus region. The absence of an official peace treaty and the complex issue of Karabakh contribute to the ongoing tensions between the two nations. Against this backdrop, the EU’s concerns regarding potential Russian interference in the lucrative gas deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia are well-founded.
As both Azerbaijan and Armenia strive for stability and economic growth, the gas deal holds promise for energy diversification and enhanced regional cooperation. It is crucial for the EU to actively engage in diplomatic efforts and support the implementation of the agreement, while addressing concerns related to external interference. By doing so, the EU can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, and sustainable development in the South Caucas.