Azerbaijan

From the South Caucasus to the world community: What the deepening conflict promises?

Shahin Jamalov

November 4, 2020

Above image, “File:Flag of Azerbaijan, Embassy of Azerbaijan, Kensington Court, London (25th September 2014).JPG” by Mtaylor848 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0a

The following is a review of the historic events that contributed to today’s conflict and what we can expect from the current conflict if it follows similar patterns.

Historical roots of the conflict:

 It is a fact that the current Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has deep historical roots. This process, which began with the resettlement of Armenians to Azerbaijani lands occupied by the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 19th century, went through the stages of brutal mass terror and bloody genocide of Azerbaijanis in 1905-1906 and 1918-1920.

Later, during the Soviet era, the Armenian SSR, the predecessor of the present-day Republic of Armenia, was established through ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijanis who had lived there for centuries at the expense of the ancient Azerbaijani lands and Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region that was established within the Azerbaijan SSR by the decision of its Central Executive Committee dated July 7, 1923.

 Since the end of 1987, the current stage of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has been stimulated by the recent expulsion of the remaining 250,000 Azerbaijanis in the Armenian SSR for ethnic reasons and in a planned manner. Subsequently, the Republic of Azerbaijan, using its sovereign right in a fully justified manner, adopted the law “On the Abolition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Republic of Azerbaijan” on November 26, 1991.

The process continued consistently, with the support of Armenian patrons, in gross violation of all principles of international law and the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. Thus, in 1988-1993, the Armenian armed forces occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.

 The occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia and the fact of genocide against the civilian population have not escaped the attention of the international community, as they pose a serious threat to the security of the entire region.

In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884 on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Each of these resolutions was adopted after the next stage of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. The Security Council unequivocally supported the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan, repeatedly stressed that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. 

The role of the CSCE in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is growing in the European region, begins with the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on March 24, 1992, in Helsinki. Thus, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was discussed at the meeting, and a decision was made to convene a Minsk Conference of the CSCE on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

At the CSCE Summit in Budapest on December 5-6, 1994, when the institution of co-chairmanship was established, it was decided to appoint two co-chairs to the Minsk Conference and to hold the meetings of the Minsk Group under their joint co-chairmanship. When the institution of co-chairmanship of the Minsk Process was established, it was headed first by Finland and Russia, and then by Sweden and Russia in 1995-1996. The United States, Russia, and France have been chairing the OSCE Minsk Process since January 1, 1997. All three countries are known for their considerable loyalty to Armenia.

 Post-ceasefire period:

 On May 12, 1994, a ceasefire was reached between the parties to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the Bishkek Protocol.

During the ceasefire, the Armenian side repeatedly violated the ceasefire, killed civilians and their civilian facilities. According to the Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as of March 2020, there were 856 killed and wounded servicemen, which is quite a large number for the ceasefire period. During this period, as a result of repeated violations of the ceasefire by Armenia, the conflict flared up and active fighting broke out between the parties.

The events of April 2016, Tovuz in 2020, and September 27 were the culmination of the process. An active war continues in the region as a result of Armenia’s gross violation of the ceasefire on September 27 and the re-ignition of the conflict. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan launched a counterattack in self-defense and launched military operations against the Armenian armed forces stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Despite repeated warnings from the Azerbaijani side, the Armenian armed forces bombed state-important facilities and civilian settlements in Ganja, the second-largest city in Azerbaijan, and later in Mingachevir, Barda, Agjabadi, and Khizi districts, homes belonging to civilians, in particular, were severely damaged, and some civilians died.

According to the official information of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 26.10.2020, 65 civilians were killed and 297 civilians were injured as a result of the Armenian attacks in these areas. The so-called “leader” of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic openly admitted that he had ordered the bombing of cities and districts not belonging to the conflict zone. Armenia’s irresponsible behavior has led to the loss of civilians and the escalation of the conflict between the parties.

  View of the conflict through the prism of international law:

There are several particularly important norms in modern international law, without which the normal functioning of the international system is practically impossible. These norms are the basic principles of international law.

 Several basic principles of international law are enshrined in Article 2 of the UN Charter as mandatory norms for all UN members. These norms are considered to be the basic principles of international law.

The 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law on Friendship and Cooperation between States in accordance with the UN Charter states that each of these principles must be considered in the context of all other principles in the study and interpretation of these principles.

The declaration reflects not all the principles of international law, but only seven principles, including the non-use or threat of force as a result of the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions by the Republic of Armenia, the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and the UN Charter. The principles of cooperation with each other and the conscientious fulfillment of the obligations assumed by states in accordance with the UN Charter have been grossly violated.

 It also violated the principles of inviolability of borders, territorial integrity of states, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, all three of which were added to the UN principles by the Helsinki Final Act of 1 August 1975.

  All the above is confirmed by the documents of international organizations. Thus, the above-mentioned UN resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884, the resolution “On aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan” No. 21/9-P (IS) adopted at the Ninth Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (Doha, Qatar). , Resolution on the Destruction and Destruction of Islamic Historical and Cultural Monuments in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan as a Result of the Aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, Resolution No. 12 / I0-P (IS) of the Republic of Armenia on the Tenth Summit (Putrajaya, Malaysia), Resolution “On the destruction and destruction of Islamic historical and cultural monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as a result of the aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan”, 10/11-P (IS) adopted at the Eleventh Summit (Dakar, Senegal) ) No. “Republic of Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe No. 2085 (2016) “Azerbaijani population in the frontline regions is deliberately deprived of water” and dozens of other international documents, the names of which are immediately and unconditionally recognized by Armenia.

The parties to the conflict are reminded that the occupied territories must be evacuated and the conflict must be resolved peacefully and through negotiations.

What does the deepening conflict herald:

There is no doubt that Armenia is to be blamed for the recent escalation of the ceasefire into an active war. However, the irresponsibility of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is responsible for the peaceful settlement of the conflict, and its preference for freezing rather than solving the problem, is a matter of concern. Conflicts cannot be frozen for hundreds of years.

 As a result, the ceasefire violation by the Armenian armed forces since April 2016, and the Azerbaijani side being forced to respond, has further inflamed the conflict. The events in Tovuz in 2020 turned the conflict from a regional to a global problem.

Thus, after the Tovuz events, Azerbaijanis and Armenians held rallies, pickets, and marches in more than 30 countries around the world, and after many rallies, there were clashes between the parties, people received various degrees of injuries. It is also reported that criminal cases have been opened in various countries in connection with the above-mentioned events. The possibility of the war escalating from the conflict zone to other countries where the two peoples live should be of concern to international organizations, as well as to the countries where these peoples live.

 It is impossible not to see that Armenia’s irresponsible behavior, firing rockets at Khizi, Barda, Agjabadi, Mingachevir, and Ganja cities miles away from the frontline, and using banned cassette and phosphorus bombs against civilians have prompted Azerbaijan to take unwelcome military action. . If these steps are taken, if the Azerbaijani armed forces intervene militarily in non-conflict cities and regions, such as the Armenian army, the responsibility for what will happen will fall on anyone interested in “freezing” the conflict along with Armenia, especially the OSCE Minsk Group. And it does not promise anything good for the region.