History repeats itself: the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Source: rferl.org

Authors: Isabela Paez Halak and Natália Yuri Kitayama

In day 27 September 2020, the confrontation in Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh, region in the South Caucasus disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan, rekindled. The two countries were accused of attacking the autonomous territory, belonging to the Azerbaijanis, but that has a population, mostly, ethnically Armenian and a government also of Armenians

The conflict dates from 1920, when both countries were annexed by the newly formed Soviet Union. At that time, Josef Stalin commanded the USSR Nationality Commissioner, created to deal with non-Russian nations incorporated into Soviet territory, and decided that the Nagorno-Karabakh area would be part of Azerbaijan, even if there were more Armenians residing there. With the weakening of the USSR in the 1980, the situation worsened and turned into a war that resulted in thirty thousand dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees, not only for territorial reasons, but also because of an ethnic and religious conflict. This lasted until 1994, when the Minsk Group, structure created within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, mediated a ceasefire between those involved.

The return of conflict in 2016, that took place over four days, was considered the worst since 1994. However, this title is given, currently, the confrontation that started in September 2020, since the attacks resulted in refugees and claimed more than 5,000 dead, according to Putin. Besides that, bombings also put the interests of neighboring countries at risk. Despite Russia's position as Armenia's main ally, the Kremlin maintains relations with Azerbaijan, since it sells arms to the country. In addition, Russians have an interest in Azeri oil reserves and in protecting oil pipelines in the Caucasus region. On the other hand, Turkey is Azerbaijan's main ally due to the Turkish origin of the Azeri people and trade relations between states.

After the three Minsk Group attempted a ceasefire, the Prime Minister of Armenia sent the Kremlin a request for assistance for the security of Armenians under the Friendship Agreement, Cooperation and Reciprocal Aid 1997, while Turkey reportedly sent military aid to Azerbaijan. In addition, the Azerbaijan invaded Shusha, city ​​in Nagorno-Karabakh of military importance that has access to Armenia, on the 8th of November. Yet, on the 10th of November, a Peace Agreement between Russia entered into force, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In this way, Nagorno-Karabakh remains Azerbaijani territory, but Armenia does not give up and its population protests against the agreement.

Bibliographic references

Understand why Azerbaijan and Armenia are in conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. CNN, 29 set. 2020. Available in <https://www.cnnbrasil.com.br/internacional/2020/09/29/entenda-por-que-azerbaijao-e-armenia-estao-em-conflito-em-nagorno-karabakh> . Access in 17 out. 2020.

GIELOW, Igor. Fighting continues despite ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Newspaper, 13 out. 2020. Available in <https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mundo/2020/10/combates-continuam-apesar-de-cessar-fogo-entre-armenia-e-azerbaijao.shtml> . Access in 17 out. 2020.


Stalin’s Legacy: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training, 6 ago. 2013. Available in <https://adst.org/2013/08/stalins-legacy-the-nagorno-karabakh-conflict/>. Access in 17 out. 2020.

Russia provides Armenia with “necessary support” if conflict reaches Ally territory. Newspaper, 31 out. 2020. Available in < https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/amp/mundo/2020/10/russia-disponibiliza-apoio-necessario-a-armenia-caso-conflito-atinja-territorio-de-aliado.shtml>. Access in 31 out. 2020.

LOSH, Jack; ROTH, Andrew. Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal brokered by Moscow prompts anger in Armenia. The Guardian, 10 nov. 2020. Available in < https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/10/nagorno-karabakh-armenia-pm-signs-deal-to-end-war-with-azerbaijan-and-russia?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other>. Access in 10 nov. 2020.

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The European Studies and Business Center (NENE) is linked to the Brazilian Center for International Business Studies & Corporate Diplomacy (CBENI) from ESPM-SP. It was created considering the need to stimulate the Brazilian and Latin American academic community to better understand their relations with Europeans, seeking to understand and deepen the Brazil-European Union Strategic Partnership.