Unraveling the Diplomatic Intrigue: The Meeting in Istanbul and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Diplomatic Intrigue: In the ever-shifting landscape of international relations, a clandestine meeting can sometimes hold the key to understanding the complex geopolitical chessboard.

On September 17, 2023, officials from the United States, the European Union, and Russia convened in Istanbul, Turkey, just two days before the Azerbaijani operation in Nagorno-Karabakh began.

Russia military
Russia military (Image source: Twitter)

This discreet gathering, revealed by Politico, aimed to address the simmering tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and chart a path toward resolution. In this article, we delve into the details of this pivotal meeting and the subsequent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Secret Summit: Istanbul, September 17, 2023

The meeting, shrouded in secrecy, brought together key players from the United States, the EU, and Russia. The United States was represented by Louis Bono, the chief adviser to the US State Department on Caucasus negotiations. Toivo Klaar, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, stood for the European Union.

Meanwhile, Igor Khovaev, the Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Promoting the Normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian Relations, represented Russia. The significance of this gathering lay in the shared understanding that Moscow held considerable influence over the regional dynamics.

Nagorno-Karabakh: A Complex History

To comprehend the gravity of the situation, we must rewind the clock to Nagorno-Karabakh’s complex history. This region declared its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan SSR 35 years ago and became an unrecognized republic following the armed conflict with Azerbaijan from 1992 to 1994. However, it recently announced its termination, effective January 1, 2024, signaling a significant development in the ongoing dispute.

September 2020: Renewed Hostilities and Mediation

In September 2020, hostilities erupted once again in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow stepped in as a mediator, brokering a ceasefire agreement. Regrettably, the Armenian side ceded control of territories both in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, including parts of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. Additionally, Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the region.

Armenia’s Stance and the 2023 Crisis

Armenia, despite its historical ties with Nagorno-Karabakh, never formally recognized its independence. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan further cemented Armenia’s position by stating, during talks with Western leaders and in a press conference in Yerevan in May 2023, that Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan’s territory.

The September 19, 2023 Operation

On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan initiated a military operation in Karabakh. One of the primary objectives was the dissolution of all autonomous bodies within Nagorno-Karabakh. Yerevan vehemently condemned these actions, categorizing them as aggression. Armenia maintained that no Armenian military units were present in Karabakh.

The Mediated Ceasefire and Subsequent Negotiations

Merely a day later, with the intervention of Russian peacekeepers, a ceasefire agreement was reached. The terms of the truce included the disarmament of Armenian formations. Following this, several rounds of negotiations unfolded between representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku, with the aim of integrating the region into Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev asserted that Azerbaijan had restored its territorial integrity.

In conclusion, the meeting in Istanbul on September 17, 2023, underscored the intricate dynamics of international diplomacy. It highlighted the crucial role played by Moscow in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and demonstrated the urgency of addressing the situation. As developments continue to unfold, the world watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution to this longstanding dispute.


1. What is the significance of the meeting in Istanbul?

The meeting in Istanbul, held on September 17, 2023, brought together officials from the United States, the EU, and Russia to address the escalating tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh and explore potential solutions.

2. Who represented the United States, the EU, and Russia at the Istanbul meeting?

The United States was represented by Louis Bono, the EU by Toivo Klaar, and Russia by Igor Khovaev.

3. What is the historical background of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence from the Azerbaijan SSR 35 years ago, leading to a protracted conflict with Azerbaijan.

4. How did the 2023 crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh unfold?

In September 2023, Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to a mediated ceasefire and subsequent negotiations.

5. What is the current status of Nagorno-Karabakh?

Nagorno-Karabakh’s status remains a subject of contention, with ongoing negotiations aimed at integrating the region into Azerbaijan.

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