Image: Troops parade in Stepanakert to mark the 20th anniversary of what Nagorno Karabakh calls its independence.A historical report from BBC confirms that significant progress was reported at talks between the leaders in May and November 2009, but progress stalled, and since then there have been a number of serious ceasefire violations. The most serious so far occurred in April 2016, when dozens of soldiers on both sides died in a fresh flare-up of hostilities. About 75 soldiers were documented in reports from both sides. A joint statement issued by the Kremlin after Monday's talks says with the aim of furthering the peace talks they agreed to increase the number of international observers in the conflict zone.
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but since a separatist war ended in 1994 it has been under the control of forces that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan claims include regular Armenian military.
In the joint statement, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed satisfaction that a cease-fire is now holding.
Without successful mediation efforts, cease-fire violations and renewed tensions threaten to reignite a military conflict between the countries and destabilize the South Caucasus region. This could also disrupt oil and gas exports from the region, since Azerbaijan is a significant oil and gas exporter to Europe and Central Asia that produces more than 850,000 barrels of oil per day.
U.S. economic interests may then be harmed and a spike in the global oil market could arise.
Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, meets with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, left, and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 20, 2016.