Strained relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan worsens amidst Global pandemic
Updated: Aug 12
BY: Masuda Mahazabin
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in dispute over the region Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Nagorno-Karabakh is a region found within Azerbaijan, however, it is controlled by ethnic Armenian forces. Approximately 95% of the population is Armenian but the region was annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin under the USSR without much consideration to the ethnic background of the region. The conflict over the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh continues to strain the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The two neighbouring nations were once a part of a larger nation called the Transcaucasian Federation. With the aftermath of World War I, this nation was divided into modern-day Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, all three of which were integrated into the Soviet Union.
Throughout the 20th century, Nagorno-Karabakh has made several efforts to unite with Armenia as their population is by-and-large ethnically Armenian. Yet in the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union began to weaken, the region held a referendum declaring its sovereignty. However, Azerbaijan decided to reject the referendum, descending into a six-year war with Armenia. By 1994, Armenian forces had taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh and much of the surrounding territory making Azerbaijan almost 15% smaller in size. After a Russian-brokered ceasefire that same year, the war had supposedly reached its end and Nagorno-Karabakh was recognized as a de facto independent state. However, sporadic violence from both sides continued.
Although Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence, the claim hasn’t been recognized by either country. Ever since the end of the war, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh collectively signed a number of ceasefire agreements, all of which were broken almost immediately after being signed. To this day Nagorno-Karabakh is still a highly disputed area that remains to be under Armenian separatist control. This incessant feud has resulted in Azeris to regularly express anti-Armenianism, also known as Armenophobia. For example, ethnic or national Armenians are prohibited to enter Azerbaijan.
As of recently, on July 12th, Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire by attacking a village in Armenia, breaking the UN’s global ceasefire implemented due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Armenia endorsed this global ceasefire, however, Azerbaijan was the only nation that refused to sign. The Ministry of Defense is threatening to bomb Armenia’s Nuclear Power Plant, such an attack would create havoc in the region. Tens of thousands of Azeri protesters yelled “Death to the Armenian” in their streets, demanding war against Armenia and to gain power over its capital city, Yerevan. Numerous homes and schools in Armenia have been demolished by Azeri forces.
A call for war amidst a global pandemic, without a doubt, sounds futile. Armenia and Azerbaijan should set aside their conflict especially during a time like this. Eventually, both nations should work towards easing their strained relations in order to build and strengthen a diplomatic relationship with one another.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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