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The Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh Enclave

Context:

Recently, Armenia’s Prime Minister and Azerbaijan’s President announced that their respective countries would be setting up border security and delimitation commissions, signalling a step towards resolution of a decades-long conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh Enclave.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-II: International Relations (Important Foreign Policies and Developments), GS-I Geography (Maps), GS-I: History (World History)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nagorno-Karabakh begin conflict
  2. The Azeri-Armenian war of 1991
  3. The war of 2016 and 2020
  4. Current peace talks

Nagorno-Karabakh begin conflict

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked, mountainous and forested region, falling within the boundaries of Azerbaijan.
  • Nagorno-Karabakh, called Artsakh in Armenian, hosts a predominantly ethnic Armenian population with an Azeri minority.
  • It is located in the South Caucasus region and is roughly made up of modern-day Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
  • Nagorno-Karabakh, which was once a part of the Armenian kingdom, has been ruled by several empires over the centuries — the Ottomans, the Persians, and the Russians.
  • Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia later became separate Republics, with the Azeris incorporating Nagorno-Karabakh into their Republic.
  • During the First World War, the Ottomans, aided by Azeris, attacked the south Caucasus, especially targeting ethnic Armenians.
  • As the Ottomans retreated at the end of the World War, Azerbaijan and Armenia descended into a full-blown war in 1920.

The Azeri-Armenian war of 1991

  • Soon, the Bolsheviks took over south Caucasus to expand Soviet influence and Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia became Soviet Republics.
  • The Soviets officially placed Nagorno-Karabakh as an autonomous Oblast (administrative region) in Azerbaijan’s territory, despite the chiefly Armenian population.
  • As Soviet power began to wane in the 1980s, the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh expressed a desire to be reunited with their roots and become a part of Armenia, organising a vote for the same in 1988.
    • This did not go down well with Azerbaijan and military clashes ensued.
  • The war killed nearly 30,000 people and caused numerous ethnic Azeris to flee Karabakh and Armenia.
    • Some Armenians in parts of Azerbaijan fled too.
  • By 1993, Armenia had taken control of most of Nagorno-Karabakh. The war ended in 1994 when both countries entered into a ceasefire brokered by Russia but the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were not demarcated.
Peace talks by Minsk Group:
  • Peace talks were initiated by the Minsk Group but peace treaty could not be brokered.
    • The Minsk Group, created by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in early 1990, was co-chaired by Russia, the United States, and France.
  • The Minsk Group’s proposals were continously rejected by both Yerevan and Baku.
  • The role of the Minsk Group declined during the 2020 war between the two countries, as other negotiating groups entered the scene.

The war of 2016 and 2020

  • A ceasefire signed in 1994 could not prevent multiple flare-ups between the Nagorno-Karabakh rebel armed forces backed by the Armenian military, and the Azerbaijani military.
  • Some skirmishes turned into direct clashes and the conflict has resulted in several casualties over the years.

2016

  • A clash started between Azerbaijan and Armenia which lasted for four days.
  • A ceasefire signed in Moscow put an end to the war but the Nagorno-Karabakh issue was far from resolved.
  • Fresh clashes erupted on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in September of 2020,

2020

  • It turned into a fierce six-week war in which more than 2,000 people died.
  • The fighting began after Azerbaijani President Aliyev launched an offensive vowing to take back Nagorno-Karabakh and other Armenian-occupied districts.
  • Both parties entered a ceasefire brokered by Moscow in November 2020.

Current peace talks

  • Despite the 2020 ceasefire, clashes have not stopped.
  • Recently, seven Azerbaijani and six Armenian soldiers were killed in border clashes.
  • With the efforts of the Minsk Group remaining largely unsuccessful, Baku saw an opportunity to introduce its own peace proposal, which calls for the mutual recognition of each State’s territorial integrity, meaning the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijani territory.
  • The European Union, meanwhile, has emerged as a potential peace broker.
  • European Council President spearheaded meetings between both countries for the beginning of peace talks While both countries have now agreed to formulate border security and delimitation commissions and start talks for a peace deal, a permanent solution for the Karabakh issue remains out of sight.

-Source: The Hindu


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