For almost three decades, numerous conflicts regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Dağlıq Qarabağ in Azerbaijani and Artsakh in Armenian, have caused massive problems in South Caucus. Because of these embroilments, the area’s significance became indisputable. Subsequent to decades of exertion, the conflict between the involved parties, which are mainly Azerbaijan and Armenia, has finally started to be resolved with the Azerbaijani government ending the embroilment in triumph.
The Importance of Nagorno-Karabakh
Learning the significance of the mountainous region of South Caucus, Nagorno-Karabakh will help people interpret the impacts of these conflicts between the countries and how the issue is being resolved. Therefore, it is now the time to ask: Why is Nagorno-Karabakh severely crucial for Azerbaijan and Armenia? To provide a better understanding, both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim that they have historical identity and culture belonging to the territory. The third president of Armenia even indicated the significance of the symbol, Artsakh for their cultural identity in one of his speeches. He said “Artsakh became the Armenian stronghold of our modern history, the symbol of the Armenian people’s ambitions, an emblem of endurance and victory. Just 30 years ago, the people of Artsakh stood upright, straightened their back, striving for freedom in a bid to shake off the yoke of alien bonds”.
Not only Armenians but also Azerbaijanis articulated the value of Nagorno-Karabakh in their culture. Every month people can see a tweet from Ilham Aliyev, the fourth president of Azerbaijan, saying “Armenia is the aggressor, Karabakh has always been will be an integral part of Azerbaijan.” Ultimately, the importance of the territory for both parties brought about the occurrence of three conflicts and events which are the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1988-1994, the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, and the 2023 Azerbaijani Offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.
First Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994)
In 1813, the region was in control of the Russian Empire. Later on, it was founded as an autonomous oblast of the Azerbaijan SSR with a mainly Armenian population by the Soviet authorities. However, in 1988, ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh started pushing for the transfer of their oblast to Armenian jurisdiction, a proposal that was resisted by both the Soviet Union and the Azerbaijan SSR. The problem raised racial tensions between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, and when the two nations gained independence from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the enclave started a conflict that was going to last without being resolved for decades.
In the early 1990s, Armenia gained domination in the territory as well as taking control of some regions in South Azerbaijan. Due to the Armenian forces acquiring power in Nagorno-Karabakh, negotiation processes began to solve the issue by diplomatic means. In order to do that, an organization, which was called the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Minsk Group, was founded by the co-chairing of Russia, the United States, and France. Ultimately, on May 5, 1994, the Bishkek Protocol, which is the name of the ceasefire agreement that ended the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, was signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, Russia, and OSCE Minsk Group. Nevertheless, the Bishkek Protocol couldn’t hinder the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan from escalating again.
Second Nagorno-Karabakh War (27 September 2020- 10 November 2020)
A breakdown in diplomacy, which was the new Armenian government calling for a new war to annex new lands, triggered armed clashes in the region in September 2020. In spite of people not expecting a possible war to break out, the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War started between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both of the countries got military support, Azerbaijan from Türkiye and Armenia from Russia, Therefore, the war had severely brutal results with approximately 7,000 people dying and 100,000 people being displaced from their homes. Owing to the Armenian side being exhausted by the harshness of the war, on November 9, a cease-fire agreement mediated by Russia was accepted by Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia. As part of the agreement, Armenia had to give up military authority over Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for allowing Russian peacekeepers to monitor the area for five years.
The 2023 Azerbaijani Offensive Nagorno-Karabakh
On 19th September 2023, Azerbaijan declared its military attack on Nagorno-Karabakh when the tension between these two states escalated again. By attacking the Armenian separatists, Azerbaijan persisted in the fact that a permanent solution to the issue could also be established by military power. Ultimately, the Azerbaijani forces took control of the region just in 24 hours of struggle. People all around the globe were baffled since the controversy which has lasted for over 3 decades was finished in only one day of battling. The Azerbaijani victory brought about nearly half of the ethnic Armenian residents to emigrate to Armenia.
The Azerbaijani Flag was ascended to the sky again by the president, Ilham Aliyev in Aghdara, the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh during a ceremony to celebrate the retrieval of the territory. During the ceremony, he delivered a speech that expressed his feelings on the achievement of the Azerbaijani armed forces.
According to the ceasefire agreement signed by both Azerbaijan and the Republic of Artsakh, the existence of the ethnic Armenian Republic of Artsakh -which had already been an unrecognized state- will be ceased by the end of the year. Despite the ethnic Armenians fleeing swiftly from the region, Aliyev assures that there won’t be any violation of the rights of the Armenian residents. However, years of contentious conflicts elicited distrust between Azerbaijani and Armenian people which made Armenians leave to feel safe in their homeland, Armenia. Most people believe that the issue came to a permanent end whereas others suggest that the controversy still remains due to the steps taken for the resolution of the issue, and the question marks left behind. It is the readers’ decision: Have the conflicts been resolved permanently?
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