Recall that the work on the peace treaty began after Azerbaijan drafted and sent to Armenia five basic principles, which were first made public on March 14, 2022.
These principles were summarized up as follows:
— mutual recognition by the two states of each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of borders and political independence;
— mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims against each other and acceptance of legal obligations not to assert such claims in the future;
— refraining from threats to security, from the use of threats and force against each other’s political independence and territorial integrity in inter-state relations, and from other actions inconsistent with the aims of the UN Charter;
— delimitation and demarcation of state borders, establishment of diplomatic relations;
— opening of transport and other communications, establishment of other relevant communications, and establishment of cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.
Interestingly, Baku put forward these five proposals after Yerevan asked the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to resume their activities and get involved in the process. Baku’s efforts and initiative, as a result of which Azerbaijani diplomacy was in fact ahead of the co-chairs and did not allow them to propose anything of their own (no more “Madrid” principles or any other principles), were aimed, apart from the immediate objective, also to stress the irrelevance of the group. Not surprisingly, Azerbaijan’s promulgation of its five principles cooled down the possible impulse of the Minsk trio and relieved them of the need to somehow respond to Armenia’s insistent invitation.
Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. We know that after Azerbaijan sent said five principles to Armenia, there were three meetings between the two leaders in Brussels (April 6, May 22, August 31), one in Prague (October 6), one in Sochi (October 31), one in Munich (February 18 this year), and another meeting in Brussels, which was scheduled for December 7, was canceled because of Nikol Pashinyan, who unsuccessfully insisted on French President Emmanuel Macron’s participation in the negotiations as another mediator (or the fifth wheel).
Then a game of “table tennis” (ping-pong) began, where one party studied the proposals, added something to them, passed them back, and the other party then did the same. And so it went on several times, which is where the name “ping-pong” actually came from.
Yes, there were complications, exchanges of fire and even full-fledged fighting on the conditional border and in Karabakh itself, there were also diplomatic deadlocks, but after each apparent deadlock the work was resumed and continued.
And now the other day, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in his speech in the parliament said that his country was ready to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, if Baku did the same and recognized … 29.800 square kilometers of the territory of Armenia. We have repeatedly mentioned that Pashinyan somewhat overstates the exact area of his country and adds 5-6 dozen square kilometers to it. But this is not the point: in what form is Armenia ready to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? Pashinyan skirts this question, relying on further verbiage, and thus forces President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to demand unequivocal recognition of Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, with the obligatory exclamation mark at the end of the phrase.
Be that as it may, as we mentioned at the very beginning, details of the current version of the peace treaty, which Baku, according to the authors of the “leak”, wants Yerevan to accept, have recently been made public in the Armenian social media, who claim it to be a “leak”. According to this information,
⭕ Armenia will have to recognize Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan, leading to the final disappearance of the phrase “Nagorno-Karabakh” as a territorial-administrative unit;
⭕ Armenians living in Karabakh will not have any “special” status within the Republic of Azerbaijan;
⭕ An international presence guaranteeing the rights and security of Armenians in Karabakh will only be possible if hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis, who left territory of present-day Armenia (i.e., West Azerbaijan) at various times, return to Daralayaz (Vayots Dzor) West Zangezur (Syunik), West Qazakh (Tavush) and the right bank of Lake Goycha with an international presence to protect their rights and security;
⭕ The peace treaty should lock in the current line of contact between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops as the basis for border delimitation and demarcation, and, in addition, Armenia will have to return the enclaves to Azerbaijan.;
⭕ The peace treaty should include a clause on the Zangezur corridor, which would ensure uninterrupted land communication between the western districts of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan.
There has been no denial or confirmation of this leak from either side, but something tells us that it is unlikely to be a fake. And if we are not mistaken, then a reasonable question arises about the meaning of it and, most importantly, the intent of those who allowed the leak to happen.
And there are two answers that suggest themselves:
1) either Yerevan is ready to accept these proposals and now Pashinyan’s team wants to test the public’s reaction to this document and prepare the citizens psychologically for signing a peace treaty based on these principles by circulating and embedding these ideas in the public agenda;
2) or Yerevan is against these proposals and intends to cause a new wave of protests and mass rallies in the country, which Pashinyan and his team will use to justify their refusal.
One of the two. However, let us wait first for the reaction of the sides to the leak as to its credibility.