The conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh has roots dating back well over a century into a competition between Christian Armenian and Muslim Turkic and Persian influences. The landlocked mountainous area of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of unresolved conflict between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian majority, sponsored by neighboring Armenia. In 1988, towards the end of Soviet rule, Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists started a bloody war that left the de facto independent state in possession of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994. To date, talks have failed to bring about a lasting peace agreement, and the dispute remains one of the “frozen conflicts” of post-Soviet Europe.
Populated for centuries by Christian Armenians and Turkic Azeris, Karabakh became part of the Russian empire in the 19th century. Both parties existed in relative harmony until the violence on both sides in the early twentieth century. After World War I and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the new Soviet rulers created the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with an ethnic Armenian majority, within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan in the early 1920s, as part of their divide-and-rule policy in the region. As Soviet influence was loosened towards the end of the 1980s, the smoldering Armenian-Azeri frictions erupted into violence when the regional parliament voted to enter Armenia. During the battle, which is estimated to have killed between 20,000 and 30,000 people, the Armenian ethnic group seized the area’s control. They also pushed to seize Azerbaijani territories outside Karabakh, establishing a buffer zone between Karabakh and Armenia. With the Soviet Union’s break-up at the end of 1991, Karabakh proclaimed itself an independent republic, further escalating the conflict into a full-scale war. That de facto status has not been recognized elsewhere. While Armenia itself has never officially recognized the country’s independence, it has become its prominent financial and military supporter.
Karabakh is the Russian rendering of an Azeri word meaning ‘black garden,’ while Nagorno is a Russian word meaning “mountainous.” The ethnic Armenians prefer to call the region Artsakh, an ancient Armenian name for the area. A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in 1994, leaving Karabakh and swathes of Azeri territory around the enclave in Armenian hands. Meanwhile, Russia also has a military base in Armenia, which certainly depicts Armenia’s soft corner for Russia.
During the fighting, in which more than one million fled their homes to certain areas, the ethnic Azeri population – about 25% of the total before the war – fled Karabakh and Armenia due to war subjects. In contrast, ethnic Armenians fled the rest of Azerbaijan. Neither population group has been able to return home since the end of the war and are forced to live there. Since the truce, a simmering stalemate has prevailed. Azeris resent the loss of land they regard as rightfully theirs, while the Armenians show no sign of willingness to give it back. The peace is disturbed as Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, and all the world accept that yet the Armenians are pulling off the war and causing the deaths of thousands of innocents.
Anarchy or A Slab City?
In a December 2006 referendum, declared illegitimate by Azerbaijan, the region approved a new constitution. Nonetheless, there have since been signs of life in the peace process, with occasional meetings between the Armenian and Azeri presidents. Significant progress was reported at talks between the leaders in May and November 2009, but progress stalled, and since then, there have been several serious ceasefire violations. The most serious so far occurred in April 2016, when dozens of soldiers on both sides died in a fresh flare-up of hostilities.
To end the horrific and egregious turbulence in both the countries, the issue has been a hotspot these days, but no suitable solution has been drawn out till now. United Nations has been a fiasco as they have failed to solve the dispute of Kashmir, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kurds, Caspian Sea, and the annexation of the West Bank and whole Palestine in the recent years but further sapped the exacerbated conditions.