Freedom in the World
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In October 2009, Turkey and Armenia signed a historic agreement to establish diplomatic relations and reopen their mutual border, raising concerns in Azerbaijan and potentially affecting negotiations between Baku and Yerevan over a settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met several times in 2009, and although the talks were hailed as a breakthrough by international negotiators, no concrete progress was reported by year’s end.
Separately, following a year of delicate negotiations, the governments of Turkey and Armenia in October signed a historic agreement to establish diplomatic relations and reopen their shared border, which Turkey had sealed in 1993 to show solidarity with Azerbaijan. To Baku’s consternation, Turkey did not make resolution of Karabakh’s status a precondition for the agreement, but international negotiators were closely watching for any effects the renewed Turkish-Armenian relations could have on talks between Baku and Yerevan.
Nagorno-Karabakh has enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan since 1994 and retains close political, economic, and military ties with Armenia. While most previous elections were regarded as relatively free and fair, parliamentary and presidential votes held in 2005 and 2007 were criticized by the opposition for alleged fraud and other irregularities. All of these elections were considered invalid by the international community, whichdoes not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.