Azerbaijan vs. Armenia: This is what the new conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is about

Dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia versus Azerbaijan: That's what the renewed escalation of the conflict is about

Man brings possession to safety

A man brings his belongings to safety after the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region escalated again in autumn 2020

© Valery Sharifulin / Picture Alliance

Fighting flares up again and again between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Many soldiers were killed again. But what for?

In the conflict that has been smoldering for years between Armenia and Azerbaijan there have again been deaths at the country's borders. According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, enemy troops tried to cross the borders. Armenian positions near the cities of Goris, Sotk and Dschermuk were attacked with artillery and large-caliber weapons. Conversely, Azerbaijan also accuses Armenia of shelling military positions in the border region. According to Azerbaijan, a large-scale attempt at sabotage by Armenians is said to have triggered the fighting on Tuesday night.

The situation is confusing – as is so often the case in wars. But one thing is certain: numerous people lost their lives in the battle. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan puts the number of Armenian soldiers killed at 49 and expects more deaths. Soldiers are also said to have been killed on the Azerbaijani side.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh

Unlike, for example, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia for a century, but flared up again with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The region has been contested for centuries because it has repeatedly been under Armenian, Persian, Tatar-Mongolian, Turkish and Russian influence.

With the independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan from the Russian Tsarist Empire in 1918, both countries laid claim to the region in the South Caucasus. Supported by Turkey, the then Ottoman Empire, Azerbaijan finally received administrative rights over the region, which was already predominantly populated by Armenians at that time Nagorno-Karabakh. An agreement should at least guarantee far-reaching autonomy rights. However, these were repeatedly injured, which increasingly hardened the fronts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Under Soviet rule, these tensions were largely suppressed. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, the conflict escalated again. The first major war between the two countries took place in the 1990s and claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides between 1992 and 1994. A ceasefire agreement failed to resolve the conflict. The fact that the predominantly Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in 1991 has never been recognized internationally. However, Armenia secured independence militarily by occupying seven Azerbaijani provinces – an illegal step from the point of view of international law.

Russia negotiates new ceasefire

The military conflict in autumn 2020 is one of the largest battles in recent history. Around 6,500 people were killed in the six-week battles. Because Russia mediated, the war was initially settled through a ceasefire agreement, and 2,000 Russian soldiers were also sent to keep the peace in Nagorno-Karabakh. For Armenia, the agreement also meant territorial losses. To date, there has not been a compromise, and the dispute remains unresolved. Political scientists therefore speak of a "frozen conflict".

After the most recent battles In a telephone call, Armenian head of state Nikol Pashinyan called on the USA, Russia and France to "react appropriately from the international community". A ceasefire was negotiated under the leadership of Russia. This occurred at eight o'clock Central European Time. Moscow said it was expected that both sides would stick to the agreement. Meanwhile, Turkey warned Armenia to stop its "provocations" against Azerbaijan and to "focus on peace negotiations and cooperation" with Baku.

Sources:State Center for Political Educationwith material from AFP and DPA

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