Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian declared on Sunday January 28 that he had proposed to Azerbaijan to sign a non-aggression pact, pending a comprehensive peace treaty between the two enemy neighbors in the Caucasus.

“We presented to Azerbaijan a proposal for a mechanism for mutual arms control and the signing of a non-aggression pact if the signing of a peace treaty were to be delayed,” Mr. Pashinian said during the a speech on the occasion of Army Day in Armenia. He also said his country, a long-time ally of Russia and which fears Azerbaijani military moves against its territory, needed to review its security arrangements.

“We need to review our strategic thinking in the field of security and diversify our [international] relations in this area,” Pashinian said. “We are ready to purchase new and modern weapons, and over the past few years the government has signed arms purchase contracts worth billions of dollars,” he added.

Azerbaijan denies having territorial claims against the former Soviet republic. But the two countries fought two wars, in the 1990s and in 2020, which left tens of thousands dead, over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, finally reconquered in September by Baku’s forces. Since this complete reconquest, almost the entire Armenian population of the region – more than 100,000 people – has fled to Armenia.

Loss of influence of Russia

The Azerbaijani victory marked the end of the dispute between the two countries, but many observers still remain cautious about the progress of the negotiations, as the disagreements and sources of tension between the two countries have accumulated over thirty years. Armed incidents still regularly take place at the border.

For several months, several rounds of negotiations led separately by Russia, the European Union (EU) and the United States did not produce results. The traditional arbiter in the region, Moscow, monopolized by its offensive in Ukraine, has lost its influence and the confidence of its Armenian ally.

On December 7, however, the two countries pledged to take “concrete steps” to “normalize” their ties. Less than a week later, they exchanged prisoners of war, a first step towards the normalization of their relations. The move was hailed as a “breakthrough” by the EU, the United States, Turkey and Russia, the two major regional powers. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev estimated on January 10 that the “conditions” for signing a peace treaty with Armenia had been “created”, assuring that he did not want a “new war”.