Nagorno-Karabakh: The world silently watches as Azerbaijan and Armenia resume fighting
29 abril, 2016
Once again conflicts ensued between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two historical enemies lying in the Caucasus region on Europe’s border with Asia. Russia plays a key role in the conflict too.
Authors: Suzanne Vink, Derek Julian Weyrather,
Paloma Álvarez, Raquel Envó,Alba Montoya
Location of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh within the Caucasus region. (Source: Eyes on Europe & Middle East News)
Stepanakert – The so-called “frozen conflict” over the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) region between Azerbaijan and Armenia started again in early April of 2016, the Azeri military intervened in Nagorno-Karabakh, killing several ethnic Armenians.
However, the conflict is not one sided, and victims are falling on both sides. Politico reports 18 Armenian soldiers have died in the current conflict, while at the same time 12 Azeri soldiers found the same fate. Moreover, the use of tanks, helicopters, artillery and grenade launchers show the conflict is getting serious. Over the past two decades, about 300.000 Armenians had to leave their homes in Azerbaijan (of which 30.000 settled in NK). On the other side, there are 800.000 Azerbaijani people displaced, of whom 200.000 have fled from Armenia and 600.000 from the conflict zone.
Not unexpectedly, Russia plays a key role in this conflict. Not only is the world’s largest country busy fighting a war in Ukraine, it has also supplied both sides, Armenia and Azerbaijan with weapons. Nevertheless, on 3. April 2016 Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, called for an immediate ceasefire between the two former Soviet republics.
Russia’s call for a ceasefire is the response to diplomatic interest in the Caucasus region. While relations with Georgia have been strained since Russia’s invasion of the country in 2009, Azerbaijan and Armenia do enjoy good relations with the large Slavic nation. While Russia uses the conflict in Ukraine as an opportunity to stop gas supplies to Europe, the European Union has set an eye on the Caucasus countries, which lie in an energy-rich region, in order to diversify gas supplies from Russia.
In the meantime, Turkey is backing Azerbaijan. This is a sensitive issue, considering the fact that the Turkish government still has not recognized the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Recently there have been worldwide protests towards the Turkish government, as it is the 101st anniversary of the genocide.
Azerbaijan and Armenia distrust each other, respectively. According to a census published in the Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD) (a monthly publication composed of statistics of all types regarding the Caucasus region), 63% of Armenians saw Azerbaijan as Armenia’s biggest enemy in 2012. 32% of Armenians stated Turkey as such. Simultaneously, 91% of Azeris stated to see Armenia as Azerbaijan’s biggest enemy.
(Graph Sources: Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD))
Already in August 2014, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, threatened Armenia with war via twitter, further increasing the tension between the two countries.
(Image source: Ilham Aliyev Twitter)
Furthermore, since Azerbaijan’s has mainly a Muslim population, the Islamic world has severed ties with Armenia. Especially Pakistan, who even withdrew recognition of the Republic of Armenia as a state, also breaking off diplomatic relations.
On the other hand, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS), called for an immediate ceasefire, stating that: “We expect both sides to respect strictly the ceasefire, refrain from the use of force and resume efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”