The average person who knows a little bit geography should remember there are 195 countries in the world today. But when it comes to territorial disputes, few people know that the list is rather long and ever-changing.
There are now more than 150 disputed territories around the globe, some of which have all chances to redefine the world map. Nagorno Karabakh conflict is also in this long list.
Under the international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as part of Azerbaijan. But the ethnic Armenians, who make up the vast majority of the population, reject Azeri rule.
They have been running their own affairs, with the support from Armenia, since Azerbaijan’s troops were pushed out in a war in the 1990s.
If you want to explore deeper you can read a lot of books, articles, resolutions and even watch films about Nagorno Karabakh conflict. But before, here we have something special to suggest those unfamiliar with the conflict.
Before digging deep in this conflict, first learn about its history, summary, and timeline of events.
Roots of Nagorno Karabakh Conflict
If you google Nagorno Karabakh conflict, you will find millions of articles. However, most of them concentrate on Nagorno-Karabakh war and too little is spoken about the roots of the conflict.
Armeniagogo is going to stand out from those articles as we think in-depth information is what you need to fully understand the causes and consequences of Karabakh conflict.
- The conflict has roots dating back over a century when this region became the subject of territorial disputes between Armenians, Turks and Persians.
- Populated for centuries by Christian Armenians and Turkic Azeris, Karabakh became part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century.
- In 1918-1920, after the demise of the Russian Empire, Nagorno Karabakh designated itself as part of Armenia and was a self-ruled Armenian province with its own government and armed forces, which fought against Azerbaijani and Ottoman forces.
- However, this relatively peaceful period lasted just a few years. Russian Communist Party adopted a decision on July 5, 1921, to separate Nagorno Karabakh from Armenia and join it to Soviet Azerbaijan, promising to establish national autonomy on its Armenian-populated territories.
- Only on July 7, 1923, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, granted a small part of Karabakh the right to an autonomous oblast, making this historically Armenian region the world’s only Christian territorial autonomy inside a largely Muslim state entity.
- For the next 70 years, Azerbaijan systematically violated the rights and interests of the Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast in an attempt to eliminate its Armenian Christian majority and replace it with Azerbaijani Muslim settlers.
- During the entire Soviet period, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh never put up with this decision, and for decades struggled for reunification with the motherland.
- Anyway if we are to estimate the prevailing condition of Nagorno-Karabakh during the Soviet Era we can say that tensions over the territory were somehow muted.
- Hostilities flared once again when Soviet control over its states weakened in the 1980s, and when in 1988 the region’s parliament voted to join Armenia.
How did the conflict escalate into a full-scale war?
Timeline of events
- February 13, 1988
Protestors in Stepanakert, the center of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), demand the reunification of NKAO with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR).
- February 20, 1988
An extraordinary session of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) Soviet of People’s Deputies passes a resolution to unify the region with Armenia.
- February 26, 1988
Almost one million people rallied in Yerevan in support of NKAO’s reunification with the Armenian SSR.
- February 27-29, 1988
Pogroms of Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait took place. During a wave of violence Armenian population of the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait is forced out.
- June 15, 1988
The Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR gives its consent for NKAO’s inclusion into the Armenian SSR, on the basis of Article 70 of the USSR Constitution. The equivalent body in Azerbaijan responded by rejecting the decision.
- July 18, 1988
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR rules that Nagorno Karabakh should remain part of Azerbaijan.
- August 1989
Azerbaijan starts the economic blockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
- January 13-20, 1990
Armenian pogroms begin in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Many members of the Armenian community in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, flee the city as tensions mount.
- January 1990
Soviet leadership declares state of emergency in Nagorno-Karabakh and along Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
- January-June, 1991
The so-called “Operacia Kolco” (“The Ring Operation”) begins. Azerbaijani militia deports Armenians from twenty-four villages in Shahumian (Northern Karabakh). Many Armenians killed, beaten, raped.
- November 1991
Azerbaijan’s Supreme Soviet annuls the autonomous status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO).
- December 10, 1991
The most important turn of events in the national liberation struggle of the Karabakh people was the referendum, held on December 10, 1991. 98 percent of the participants of the referendum voted for the independence of Nagorno Karabakh further escalating the conflict into a full-scale war.
- January 2, 1992
The newly elected legislative body of Karabakh adopted the Declaration of Independence and appealed to all the countries of the world to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) and help prevent the genocide of the Artsakh Armenians.
- February 25-26, 1992
Armenians take the village of Khojalu from where Azerbaijanis were bombarding Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno Karabakh.
- March 1992
The Azerbaijani Army undertook a wide-scale offensive that involved the entire front line. The main blow was aimed at the Martakert, Askeran, and Martuni districts. Even with the liquidation of the Khojaly military base, the shelling did not subside. The Azerbaijanis positioned in the town of Shushi and started bombarding the NKR capital and other populated areas.
- April 10, 1992
A sudden attack by Azerbaijani forces on the Armenian village of Maragha: 45 people are beheaded on the spot, 49 (including 9 children and 18 women) are taken hostages. 19 of them are still missing.
- April 22-23, 1992
Armenians of Maragha who returned to bury the bodies of their compatriots are attacked again. More casualties are reported.
- May 8, 1992
The Artsakh self-defense subunits started a counteroffensive operation and took the Shushi-Lachin road under their control. As a result of fierce street battles, Armenian troops occupied the central quarters of the town by evening.
- May 9, 1992
The town of Shoushi from where the Azerbaijani forces bombarded the capital of NKR Stepanakert is taken by NKR Self-Defense Forces.
- May 18, 1992
The NKR Self-Defense Forces conduct a successful operation opening a humanitarian corridor through Lachin, finally opening the road to the outside world.
- June 1992
Azerbaijan launches offensive against Armenians in Martakert, in northern Karabakh and the neighboring Geranboi/Shaumian district of Azerbaijan, displacing some 40,000 Armenians.
- June 12, 1992
The Azerbaijani forces begin large-scale offensives resulting in occupation of the Shahoumian region, the northern part of the Martakert region, and the eastern part of the Askeran region.
- August 18, 1992
Pellet bombs were dropped on Stepanakert even though the use of such weapons was forbidden by international law. The following days, the villages of the Martuni, Martakert, and Askeran districts were bombarded.
- February-June, 1993
Karabakh forces succeeded in re-establishing full control of the Martakert-Kelbajar road and of the Sarsang Reservoir where a vital electrical power station was located.
- July-August 1993
Karabakh Armenian forces take Agdam, and then push south toward the Iranian border, occupying the Qubatli, Jebrayli, and Fizuli districts.
- October 1993
The UN Security Council adopts four resolutions calling for a halt to the fighting.
- December 16, 1993
Azerbaijan violates the ceasefire terms achieved in October and launches a large-scale offensive against NKR along the entire front line. Azerbaijan wins back some territory in fierce fighting, but is then forced to retreat.
- February 1, 1994
Russia proposes a three-week cease-fire beginning on February 1, 1994.
- April 10, 1994
As a result of counteroffensives in the northern-eastern front, the NKR armed forces took a number of strategic hills in the Gulistan-Talish region.
In the middle of April, the NKR Defense Army liberated the Armenian villages of Talish, Chily, Madagis, and Levonarkh. Karabakh troops were also successful in their southern movement and managed to take control of the main road in Agdam-Barda.
- May 9-11, 1994
The Russian mediation team draws up a comprehensive ceasefire agreement. The defense authorities of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno Karabakh sign the document. The agreement became effective on May 12, 1994.
Nagorno Karabakh Conflict after 1994
- Despite the ceasefire agreement, a lot of clashes occurred in the years following 1994 For example, between 2008 and 2010, 74 soldiers were killed on both sides.
- In 2014, 27 soldiers were killed in addition to 34 fatalities on the Azerbaijani side.
- On November 12, 2014, the Azerbaijani armed forces shot down a Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army Mil Mi-24 helicopter over Karabakh’s Agdam district. Three servicemen were killed in the incident. Armenia’s Defense Ministry stated the aircraft was unarmed and called its downing an “unprecedented provocation”.
- In 2015, 42 Armenian soldiers and 5 civilians were killed as border clashes continued. In addition, at least 64 Azerbaijani soldiers died.
- Sporadic fighting primarily took place in January, June, August, September, November and throughout December.
What is “Four Day” or “April War?”
One of the darkest pages for Nagorno Karabakh history is considered the “four-day war” in 2016.
Though after ceasefire agreement signed in 1994, a lot of clashes occurred that have caused deaths on both sides, so far the darkest page in the history of Nagorno Karabakh since 1994 is considered the one known as the “Four Day” or “April War”.
In the early morning hours of April 2, 2016, Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched a large-scale military offensive along the entire length of the 170-kilometer Karabakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact.
The authorities of Armenia and Artsakh informed the international community about the unprecedented aggression escalated by Azerbaijan and called on the OSCE Minsk Group to show targeted reaction to the situation and settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
International institutions, humanitarian organizations, and the three co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group (United States, Russia, and France) condemned the use of force in the conflict zone, calling on the parties to cease all military operations and stabilize the situation on the Line of Contact.
This military offensive and unprecedented aggression by the Azerbaijani side resulted in hundreds of casualties and wounded on both sides, including civilians.
The US State Department estimated that a total of 350 people—military and civilian—died.
There was evidence of gross human rights violations, including attacking and mutilating innocent civilians in their homes, signs of torture on bodies of Armenian soldiers, etc., by Azerbaijani military that run contrary to International Humanitarian Law.
In a word, the “April War” rattled international community and the whole world. So the odds are you also got updates on violations happening in Nagorno Karabakh.
Anyway if you’ve missed something, no need to worry. You can find abundance of articles about “April War” as “The Four Day War” caught the attention of the world’s leading media outlets, some of whom even sent crews to the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh to report the story from the ground as it was unfolding.
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