Foreign Relations of Armenia - Disputes - Nagorno-Karabakh/Azerbaijan

Nagorno-Karabakh/Azerbaijan

See also: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Armenia supports ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the longstanding and very bitter separatist conflict against the Azerbaijani Government.

The current conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) began in 1988 when Armenian demonstrations against Azerbaijani rule broke out in both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Supreme Soviet voted to secede from Azerbaijan and join Armenia. Soon, violence broke out against ethnic Azeris in Armenia and ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan. In 1990, after violent episodes in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku and Sumgait, Moscow declared a state of emergency in Karabakh, sent troops to the region, and forcibly occupied Baku, killing over a hundred civilians. In April 1991, Azerbaijani militia and Soviet forces targeted Armenian paramilitaries operating in Karabakh. Moscow also deployed troops to Yerevan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, conflict escalated into a full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Military action was heavily influenced by the Russian military, which inspired and manipulated the rivalry between the two neighbouring nations in order to keep both under control.

More than 30,000 people were killed in the fighting from 1992 to 1994. In May 1992, Armenian forces seized Shusha and Lachin (thereby linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia). By October 1993, Armenian forces succeeded in occupying almost all of former NKAO, Lachin and large areas in southwestern Azerbaijan. In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions calling for the cessation of hostilities, unimpeded access for international humanitarian relief efforts, and the eventual deployment of a peacekeeping force in the region. Fighting continued, however, until May 1994 when Russia brokered a cease-fire.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict peacefully have been ongoing since 1992 under the aegis of the Minsk Group of the OSCE. The Minsk Group is currently co-chaired by Russia, France, and the United States and has representation from Turkey, the U.S., several European nations, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Despite the 1994 cease-fire, sporadic violations, sniper-fire and landmine incidents continue to claim over 100 lives each year.

Since 1997, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs have presented three proposals to serve as a framework for resolving the conflict. One side or the other rejected each of those proposals. Beginning in 1999, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia initiated a direct dialogue through a series of face-to-face meetings, often facilitated by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Most recently the OSCE sponsored a round of negotiations between the Presidents in Key West, Florida. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell launched the talks on 3 April 2001, and the negotiations continued with mediation by the U.S., Russia and France until 6 April 2001. The Co-Chairs are continuing to work with the two Presidents in the hope of finding a lasting peace.

The two countries are still technically at war.

Read more about this topic:  Foreign Relations Of Armenia, Disputes