Armenia and Azerbaijan are close to signing a peace deal that would end their decades-long conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a senior Armenian official said on Sunday.
Armen Grigoryan, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, told national television that the negotiations were very intensive and that there was a chance to have a peace treaty by the end of 2023.
The peace deal would be based on the agreement brokered by Russia and signed by the leaders of the three countries on November 10, 2020. That agreement ended the six-week military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan made significant advances into the territory controlled by ethnic Armenians.
The 2020 agreement stipulated that Azerbaijan would keep the areas it captured and that Armenia would withdraw from several adjacent areas. Russia deployed nearly 2,000 soldiers to monitor the deal and help with the return of refugees.
The new peace deal would also involve recognizing each other’s territorial integrity and establishing diplomatic relations, according to Azerbaijan’s proposal earlier this year.
Moscow, Washington and the European Union are all trying separately to help ensure permanent peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have fought two wars in the last 30 years over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated mainly by ethnic Armenians. Both sides routinely accuse the other of breaking the 2020 ceasefire.
Last week, TASS reported that European Council President Charles Michel, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev would meet in July.
The possible peace deal has been welcomed by many people in both countries, who hope for an end to the bloodshed and suffering. However, some hardliners in Armenia have opposed any concessions to Azerbaijan and have protested against their government’s handling of the conflict.