As the spat between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues, let us take a look at the former Soviet territories and their conflict, which dates long back.
Crux of the Matter
Armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted recently in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian separatists reported 31 military casualties on their side, while Azerbaijan reported 26 civilian casualties and claimed to have inflicted “heavy losses” on the other side.
Both countries have imposed martial law at particular places while mobilizing troops for further action. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has requested the international community to intervene as the region is on the verge of a “large-scale war”.
Turkey and Pakistan have declared open support of Azerbaijan in the conflict. However, Turkey denied Armenia’s claims that it had provided armed support to Azerbaijan. Russia, having a military base in Armenia and closer ties to it than Azerbaijan, has called for a ceasefire which has been supported by the US, Iran, France, and the UN.
Background And History Of The Conflict
Nagorno-Karabakh is the disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While it is located officially inside Azerbaijan’s territory, it has a majority population of Armenian ethnicity.
- 1922: The Soviet Union was formed, and both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed to it.
- 1989: Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
- 1991: The Soviet Union was dissolved. In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia.
- War erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had ~30,000 casualties reported.
- In the same year, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent ‘Republic of Artsakh’, which is unrecognized by the UN members.
- 1994: A ceasefire was declared with the aid of Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh was declared part of Azerbaijan but continues being administered by ethnic Armenians with backing from the Armenian Government.
- Several clashes have occurred between the two, with the most recent major clash occurring in 2016 when ~110 casualties were reported.
Turkey backs Azerbaijan (a Muslim majority state) in the conflict. However, experts have claimed that Turkey’s support also comes due to the oil-richness of Azerbaijan, and that and that Turkey has allegedly advanced the animosity between the two neighbours in recent times. Turkey has no official relations with Armenia and had closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as it backed Azerbaijan in the war.
Russia has stronger ties with Armenia (a Christian majority state) as compared to Azerbaijan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia, while both the countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed between former states of the Soviet.
- The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first secular democratic Muslim-majority state. In 1920, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year.
- Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great was King of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state to Rome’s east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House.
- According to the histories of Moses of Chorene, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendant of Hayk. Hayk the Great, is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.