Baku, Azerbaijan – A week behind in the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the victory of the Azerbaijani army on the front is being celebrated in the capital Baku and other cities.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry shared images of Armenian positions shelled during the night this morning.
The images show military vehicles destroyed by successive bombs and missiles launched from drones.
The Armenian army hit civilian settlements in the city of ganja with missiles. There are reports of casualties and wounded in the attack.
Ganja is the second largest city in Azerbaijan and over 330 thousand people live. Television footage from the aftermath of the attack shows homes hit.
Armenian media also published images of houses allegedly shot in Khankendi, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, which they held under occupation.
Israeli production of rockets fired from armed drones at military targets has sparked panic among Armenian forces.
Araik Harutyunyan, the political leader of increasingly cornered Nagorno-Karabakh, shared photos of himself on his Twitter account.
Azerbaijani media carried a map of the areas liberated from occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh to their pages.
Azerbaijanis celebrated the capture of Sukovushan (Agdere) district in many cities, mainly in the capital Baku.
As the Armenian flag in the district was lowered, security expert poet Ramaldanova says Sukovushan has a crucial role to play in the advance in the North.
Armenians in Argentina and Greece held anti-Turkey and Azerbaijan demonstrations over the weekend.
In Thessaloniki, those who descended on the street with Armenian and Greek flags in their hands chanted slogans and carried banners such as ‘stop Aliyev’s propaganda’.
In the Argentine capital of Bueones Aires, Armenian protesters gathered in front of the Azerbaijani embassy.
Carrying Armenian flags and Spanish banners, the group chanted anti-Turkey and Azerbaijan slogans.
And those who live in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, He gathered at Gayane Church and prayed to stop the defeat. Some people in the crowd, who didn’t mind social distance, were seen not wearing masks.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh began in the morning on Sunday in violation of Armenia’s ceasefire. Armenia has occupied the region for more than half a century.
Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh), which covers an area of 4,400 square kilometers in the South Caucasus, has been waiting for a solution for many years as the biggest problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
So, what is the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, both countries of the former Soviet Union? The word origin of the’ Nagorno-Karabakh ‘ region consists of a mixture of several different languages. Even a few languages found in its name show how the region has been exposed to the transition between different cultures throughout history.
Nagorny (or Nagorno) in English is Karabakh. The word’ Nagorny ‘means’ mountainous ‘ (нагорный), in Russian. In Azerbaijani, just like in Turkish, it is referred to by the words ‘dağliq’ or ‘yuxarı’, which means ‘mountainous’. Karabakh, on the other hand, is a common word in Turkish and Persian, meaning ‘black garden’.
When Azerbaijan and Armenia joined the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, Nagorno-Karabakh developed into a structure that seemed accepted, but was not adopted by Armenians. In Nagorno-Karabakh, which was granted autonomous region status under the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1923, the status quo was maintained until the end of the 1980s, when the Soviet system came to a standstill, although ethnic Armenians living in the region raised their discomfort with the Azerbaijani administration from time to time.
Along with the process of openness (glasnost) and reconstruction (perestroika), which Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, initiated in 1985 to pave the way for a blocked system, Nagorno-Karabakh, like all the problem areas of the Caucasus, came to light. Evaluating the ever-weakening authority of the Soviet administration, the Autonomous Administration of Nagorno-Karabakh demanded annexation to the Republic of Armenia in 1988. While this demand was not reciprocated, after Azerbaijan and Armenia declared their independence in 1991, the secession attempts of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh also intensified.
During this period, the Azerbaijani population in Karabakh had fallen by up to 20 percent due to forced migrations. In a referendum held on December 10, 1991, which was boycotted by Azerbaijanis remaining in the region, Armenians voted to leave Azerbaijan. After the referendum, the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh was declared, but this initiative did not find a response in the international community. Tensions between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, supported by the Armenian army, and the Azerbaijanis living in the region increased with the declaration of independence. In 1992, the conflict turned into a hot war between the Armenian army and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani army.
At the end of the war, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh took control of the entire region, as well as occupied seven neighboring regions (Rayons). Thus, the direct contact points of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan were quite limited. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been described in academic circles as a ‘frozen conflict’ for years. Despite the ongoing settlement negotiations at intervals, violations of the mutual ceasefire are frequently repeated both on the Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijan contact line and on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. August 2014 saw the bloodiest clashes in 20 years. Two days of fighting on the Nagorno-Karabakh border left 13 Azerbaijani soldiers dead. The Armenian Defense Ministry also announced that 20 soldiers were killed.
Half a million refugees took refuge in Azerbaijan and Armenia, and about a million people were forced to relocate. Some towns and villages that existed before the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were completely abandoned and destroyed. More than 14 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory is still under occupation. Azerbaijanis claim that the region has historically been under their control and therefore belongs to them, while Armenians claim that Armenians have always lived in the region and that Azerbaijani rule is illegitimate.
Other states were reluctant to intervene because it was seen as a domestic issue. Since 1992, the conflict has become interstate due to the fact that it took place between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Defense spending in Azerbaijan has increased by about 50 percent every year since 2003. In 2012, defense spending accounted for a fifth of Azerbaijan’s total public spending. Armenia also expanded its arsenal with the help of Russia.
Although the exact numbers are not known, it is believed that the population of Lachin and Kelbajar with small settlements totaled about 14 thousand people. According to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, there has been no significant increase in the population since 2005. Ethnic Armenians settled in the region have limited access to infrastructure, economic activities and public services. Many of them are also missing identity documents.
The weakest part of the problem is the contact line, which is 175 kilometers long. This line, filled with minefields, resembles the trenches of the first World War. 30 thousand soldiers have been deployed to the contact line by the Armenian side and slightly more than this number by Azerbaijan. The negotiations, conducted through the OSCE Minsk Group, have been difficult, as leaders are approaching a compromise, but are backing down out of concern that their country may not meet the demands of the public.
Azerbaijanis and Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh cannot influence the process. Armenian and Azerbaijani public opinion has more influence on the process than the locals of the region. The Minsk Group Co-Chairs have no spokespersons or media secretaries. For this reason, the talks have little media coverage.
Russia, having previously taken a position close to Armenia, now prefers to stand at an equal distance from Azerbaijan and Armenia. This strategy strengthened after the war with Georgia in August 2008. The strategic priority has become the isolation of Georgia. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is less important to the United States than the conflicts in the Middle East. The Armenian Lobby in Congress, the energy security of the Caspian Sea Basin, the ‘fight against terrorism’ and the ability to use Azerbaijani airspace on flights to Afghanistan are priority issues for the United States.
Azerbaijan’s expectation of a possible agreement is the return of the occupied territories. Armenia’s expectation of a possible agreement is to guarantee security for the Armenians of Karabakh and hold an independence vote. A worrying aspect of the agreement for Azerbaijan is that the option of ‘independence’ will be put to a referendum. A concern for Armenia is that the Lachin Corridor, which connects Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, cannot be protected, and international security guarantees reduce their influence in the region.