The tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan revive, as a result of the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The first signs of tension, perhaps underestimated, date back to a year ago. Probably, it was also underestimated the fact that, over the last decade, the two countries have invested heavily in military equipment. Actually, Azerbaijan has spent over $ 3 billion (more than the entire Armenian public spending) for the purchase of helicopters, aircrafts, anti-missile systems and anti-tank artillery. Armenia also increased its military spending, reaching about $ 450 million.
At the same time, skirmishes between the two countries have also increased in number and intensity along the line of contact between Armenian separatists and the Azerbaijani army, where first snipers and then tanks have been deployed. Furthermore, fire exchanges have become more and more frequent, causing dozens of casualties. The confrontation along the Nagorno-Karabakh border, the most violent since 1994, when the war between the two Caucasian countries officially ended, brought again the attention to forgotten conflict, which is the worst potential cause of destabilization in the Southern Caucasus area.
However, the OSCE Group of Minsk (composed by Russia, the United States and France), has embarked on diplomatic efforts that have led to the commitment of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict peacefully. Nonetheless, since the middle of last year, the peace process is at stalemate, while trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan is ever lower than before. Still, it is necessary to implement this peace and stabilization process, even with support from the European Union (EU). Actually, the crucial points of the negotiation are, above all, the return under the control of Baku of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Armenian ethnic forces; the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the way this will be determined; the return of displaced persons; security guarantees for both countries.
Undoubtedly, an agreement based on mutual compromises is the only option for a lasting peace, while maintaining territorial integrity and self-determination. This would also benefit a region where the closure of the borders between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey hinder the development of the area and weaken the eastern partnership of the EU. Lastly, it is important to act quickly in order to avoid the escalation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, due also to ever-growing nationalist rhetoric within the two countries, and to prevent this conflict from degenerating into a proxy war between regional powers such as Turkey, Russia and Iran.