Azerbaijan, Armenia In Violation Of Vienna Document On Confidence, State Dept Suggests

Azerbaijan, Armenia In Violation Of Vienna Document On Confidence, State Dept Suggests

The U.S. State Department finds both Azerbaijan and Armenia in violation of an international agreement on military exercises, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

In its annual Compliance Report to Congress focused on arms control violations and noncompliance by the countries around the world, the State Department accuses Azerbaijan and Armenia of failing to notify "at least one major military exercise or activity" for calendar year 2023, as they are required to do so under the Vienna Document on Confidence, known as VD11.

According to the report, on November 17, 2022, Azerbaijan stated it did not plan to organize any military activity according to Paragraph 61 of VD11 for calendar year 2023. However, the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry website referenced one exercise conducted in 2023 that appeared to be eligible for notification: MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK 2023 – a national-level exercise started on October 23.

"Even if Azerbaijan concluded that its 2023 exercises were not subject to Chapter V notification under VD11 because they did not meet the notification thresholds, Azerbaijan should have reported at least one exercise to fulfill the commitment identified above, as acknowledged in its November 15, 2022, notification," reads the report.

Due to the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, direct diplomatic engagement regarding VD11 has been severely limited. In December 2023, the Defense Attaché Office at U.S. Embassy Baku engaged with Azerbaijan Defense Ministry personnel and encouraged Baku to fully implement its commitments under VD11.

"During these meetings, U.S. officials discussed the VD11 Plus Decision No. 9/12 exercise notification commitment, conveyed the importance that the United States attaches to keeping one’s commitments under VD11, and encouraged a return to full adherence," reads the report.

Following diplomatic outreach, Azerbaijan made an effort to address the identified issue by notifying OSCE participating States of a 2023 military exercise after it had occurred.

"This was a welcomed gesture, and the United States will continue to encourage Azerbaijan to send timely notifications for future military exercises," the authors emphasize.

As for Armenia, the report suggests that Yerevan also did not adhere to VD11 commitments last year. In particular, Armenia did not provide annual VD11 data on its armed forces, nor any other required information or notifications. Armenia also did not notify at least one major military exercise or activity in 2023.

"Armenia has failed to submit its annual data since its last submission on December 15, 2019," reads the report.

The authors went on to elaborate: "In 2020, 2021, and 2022, Armenia notified a delay of unspecified duration in providing its VD11 data, citing its ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan as the cause. It has provided no further updates on the subject since and did not provide annual data on December 15, 2023. Armenia reported on July 29, 2020, that it was not “in a position to accept military inspections by the Republic of Turkey and guest inspectors from Turkey” on its territory under the Vienna Document. Armenia’s position may raise adherence concerns once it concludes its COVID-19 pause in inspections."

U.S. Embassy Yerevan reported last December that Armenian MOD officials were engaged in the country's ongoing non-implementation of VD11. Yerevan stated that its continued non-adherence to its VD11 commitments is due to the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan.

"Recent diplomatic outreach suggests that Armenia does not intend to restart full implementation of VD11 in 2024, but it might be open to bilateral activities with specific partners," the authors conclude.

The unclassified version of the report is available at: https://www.state.gov/adherence-to-and-compliance-with-arms-control-nonproliferation-and-disarmament-agreements-and-commitments/.

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