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Armenia – Azerbaijan: Reasons and Consequences of the Worst Conflict After 1994 Ceasefire

The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Azerbaijan have a story of unresolved conflict. Ethnic violence began in the 1980s and exploded into a war that lasted from 1988 to 1994.

It ended with Russia’s call for a ceasefire in 1994, and with the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, inhabited by an Armenian majority, controlling most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, over two decades later, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is still internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Since 27 September 2020, renewed clashes have been raging along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, established after the 1994 ceasefire. Both sides blame the other for attacks on civilians, schools and factories, and therefore for sabotaging a peaceful settlement.

Armenia and Artsakh have responded with martial law and total mobilisation, while Azerbaijan has introduced martial law and a curfew. Hence, technology is playing a key role in the ongoing conflict.

Turkey is holding substantial control over Azerbaijan by providing military support to the ally. Ankara is sending Syrian fighters, drawn from both the Syrian National Army and independent mercenaries, to the region. The Turkish involvement in the conflict is seemingly related to its attempt to extend its hegemony over Azerbaijan and to minimise Russia’s influence over the territory. Additionally, by employing foreign troops, Turkey means lower political costs and the possibility of denial for the government.

Russia is another central actor in the region’s dynamics, having strong ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, it is playing a contradictory role in the conflict as it is supplying weapons to both sides.

On the other hand, it provides Armenia with security guarantees, but, since the Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, they do not apply to the combat zone. In case Russia does not intervene, analysts say, it would push Azerbaijan further into Turkey’s arms, and would consequently loosen its connections with the country.

The international community, excluding Turkey, has called for restraint. The United Nations Security Council has emphasised the core role of the Minsk Group, chaired by France, Russia and the USA, in mediating the conflict. As a consequence, Armenia has appealed to the United States to step in on its side and stand for peace rather than fall for war on the Azerbaijani side.

Armenians identify the ongoing struggle as a premeditated campaign to exterminate their entire race. They blame the Turkish government for not admitting the scope of these events and for banning any claim about the Armenian genocide of 1915. 1.5 million deaths are still not acknowledged in neither Turkey nor the USA. Hence, the Armenian people ask the international community for recognition and protection from future possible mass killings.

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