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US Initiates ‘Historic’ Mediation Process As Azerbaijan & Armenia Move To Resolve A Generation-Old Conflict

US Initiates ‘Historic’ Mediation Process As Azerbaijan & Armenia Move To Resolve A Generation-Old Conflict

In 1936, Armenia and Azerbaijan became separate entities from the Soviet Union. In 1988, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) voted to secede and join Armenia. This was met by pogroms of Armenians, chiefly in three cities of Azerbaijan.

It led to a military conflict known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War, and in the operations against Armenians, Azerbaijani and Soviet troops jointly uprooted Armenian civilians in part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the war became an international conflict between two sovereign states.

Armenia had occupied NKAO and seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories. The two sides signed a ceasefire in late 1994. In 2008, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared that “Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent; the position is also backed by international mediators. Armenia has to accept the reality.”

In 2008, the two states clashed over the disputed NKAO. June 2010 saw a brief flare-up of the conflict, resulting in the death of four Armenian soldiers and one Azeri soldier. The clash came a day after peace talks were held between the two countries’ presidents in Moscow.

After the failure of negotiations between the two sides in Kazan in June 2011, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev used the June 26 Salvation Day military parade to warn Armenia that he may retake NKAO by force.

Border clashes continued intermittently, and in 2016, an estimated 350 troops and civilians on both sides were killed. Azerbaijan declared a unilateral ceasefire, and the Azeri forces launched an attack to take the disputed territory. In the July 2022 clashes, both sides deployed artillery, tanks, and shock drones. There were many casualties on both sides. On October 9, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, appealed for an urgent ceasefire. She also raised the alarm over heavily populated areas being bombarded.

In the war of 2020, Azerbaijan was aided by its ally Turkey which helped it to retake large portions of NKAO. A deal to end the crisis was brokered by Russia, which sent a peace-keeping force to patrol the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several other US lawmakers arrived in Armenia to take stock of things. Pelosi blamed Azerbaijan for “illegal attacks” on Armenia – prompting an angry rebuke from Azerbaijan.

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