The week of May 8-12 saw an Amnesty Order signed by the President, Azerbaijan and Armenia’s future meetings agenda and a flare-up in the contact line.
President Aliyev signs largest Amnesty Order in Azerbaijan’s history
On May 8, 2023, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an Amnesty Order that granted pardons to 801 convicts, the largest act of amnesty adopted in the history of Azerbaijan. The Amnesty Order granted amnesties to those released from imprisonment, the unserved half of the imprisonment sentence, and other punishments unrelated to deprivation of liberty.
Among those pardoned were Ali Aliyev, the Citizen and Development Party (VIP) chairman, and journalist Elchin Mammad, who are recognized as political prisoners by human rights organizations. Rafig Bayramov, former Deputy Minister of Culture, who was sentenced to 8 years in prison on August 17, 2021, for abuse of power, embezzlement, and forgery, was also released from prison.
Human rights defenders expressed different reactions to the order. Elshan Hasanov, head of the Monitoring Center for Political Prisoners, stated that he was dissatisfied with the amnesty order as it did not address the issue of political prisoners. On the other hand, Rasul Jafarov, Chairman of the Baku Human Rights Club, positively assessed the order.
Azerbaijan and Armenia leaders to meet in Brussels on May 14, but approval for the Chisinau meeting still pending
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has confirmed that a meeting between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the participation of the head of the Council of the European Union will take place in Brussels on May 14.
However, Azerbaijan has not yet given final approval to the meeting in Chisinau on June 1 with the participation of the leaders of France and Germany. Aykhan Hajizadeh, the head of the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that the reason was that the format of the meeting has not been announced in detail. The tension on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan happened when negotiations on the peace agreement were intensifying, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said it is unlikely that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan will be signed in Brussels on May 14. He added that his decision to go to Brussels has not changed. This week, one Azerbaijani soldier was killed, one was wounded, and three soldiers from the Armenian side were wounded as a result of the violation of the ceasefire on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Russia urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint amid ongoing conflict
Russia has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint amidst the ongoing conflict on the contact line. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian President, stated that contacts with the parties are ongoing, and Russian officials have been in communication with both the Prime Minister of Armenia and Azerbaijani representatives. Russia expects a restrained approach from the parties and urges them not to take any steps that could lead to an increase in tension.
As a result of the ceasefire violation on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan, one Azerbaijani soldier was killed, one was wounded, and three soldiers from the Armenian side were wounded.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has been ongoing for decades, with periodic flare-ups resulting in casualties on both sides. Russia has been involved in the peace process as a mediator, and the recent violence has underscored the fragility of the situation.