Armenia–Azerbaijan relations

There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, largely due to the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The neighboring nations had formal governmental relations between 1918 and 1921, during their brief independence from the collapsed Russian Empire, as the First Republic of Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan; these relations existed from the period after the Russian Revolution until they were occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union. Due to the two wars waged by the countries in the past century—one from 1918 to 1921 and another from 1988 to 1994—the two have had strained relations. In the wake of ongoing hostilities, social memory of Soviet-era cohabitation is widely repressed (censored and stigmatised).[1]

Armenia-Azerbaijan relations
Map indicating locations of Armenia and Azerbaijan




Relations between 1918 and 1921Edit

Upon the disintegration of the Transcaucasian Federation with the proclamation of the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia on May 26, 1918, both Azerbaijan and Armenia proclaimed their independence on the same day, May 28, 1918. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan laid claim to the territory which they saw as historically and ethnically theirs; these territorial disputes led to the Armenian–Azerbaijani War between 1918 and 1920, a series of conflicts that ended only when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed by the Soviet Union.

Soviet Period (1922–1991)Edit

Upon the establishment of USSR in 1922, Azerbaijan SSR and Armenian SSR became constituent states, initially as a part of Transcaucasian SFSR, and from 1936 as separate entities. The relations between the two nations, including in Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), were generally peaceful and friendly whilst all Soviet entities. In December 1947, the communist leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan addressed a joint letter to Stalin. In the letter, the leaders of the two countries agreed to relocate 130,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia to Azerbaijan, thereby creating vacancies for Armenians coming to Armenia from abroad.[2] Though occasional confrontations did occur, particularly the 1948 and the 1964 public protests in Armenia which resulted in the exodus of a large number of Azeris, they remained unknown to a broader public due to strict Soviet censorship. According to Soviet Census (1979), 160,841 Azeris lived in Armenia and 352,410 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan outside of Nagorno-Karabagh.[3] Soviet Census (1989) showed a decline of those minorities to 84,860 Azeris in Armenia and 245.045 Armenians in Azerbaijan outside of Nagorno-Karabagh.[3]

Karabakh WarEdit

In 1988, the Armenians of Karabakh voted to secede and join Armenia. This was met by pogroms of Armenians chiefly in three cities of Azerbaijan: Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad and led to the military conflict that became known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The war resulted in de facto Armenian occupation of former NKAO and seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories, this advance was effectively halted when both sides agreed to observe a cease-fire that has been in effect since May 1994. In late 1995, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to find a negotiated resolution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group. The Minsk Group is currently co-chaired by the US, France, and Russia and comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and several Western European nations.

During the conflict the largest city Stepanakert was besieged by Azerbaijani forces from late 1991 to May 1992 whereby Armenians were bombarded, civilian and armed.[4][5][6] The indiscriminate shelling, sniper shooting and aerial attacks killed or maimed hundreds of civilians and destroyed homes, hospitals and other buildings that were not legitimate military targets, and generally terrorized the civilian population.[7] Azerbaijan blockaded all essential supplies, including water, electricity, food and medicines causing many deaths. Human Rights Watch reported that key bases used by forces for bombardment were the towns of Khojaly and Shusha.[8]

Amid this Khojaly massacre - the mass murder[9] of ethnic Azerbaijani citizens of Khojaly occurred on 26 February 1992. According to Human Rights Watch, the tragedy struck when a large column of residents, accompanied by a few dozen retreating fighters, fled the city as it fell to Armenian forces. As they approached the border with Azerbaijan, they came across an Armenian military post and were fired upon".[10][11]


After the war, relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan remained very tense. In 2008, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev declared that "Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality" and that "in 1918, Yerevan was granted to the Armenians. Khanate of Iravan was the Azeri territory, the Armenians were guests here."[12]

Citizens of Armenia, people of Armenian descent and those who have visited the disputed region are forbidden entry to Azerbaijan without prior formal authorisation.[13][14]

In 2008, in what became known as the 2008 Mardakert Skirmishes, Armenia and Azerbaijan clashed over Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting between the two sides was brief, with few casualties on either side.[12]

June 2010 saw a brief flare-up of the conflict, resulting in the deaths of four Armenian soldiers and one Azeri soldier. The clash came a day after peace talks between the presidents of the two nations held in Moscow.[15]

On August 31, 2010, a border clash killed three Armenians and two Azeris. The Armenian army claimed up to seven Azeris had been killed. Both sides blamed the other for the incident.[16]

On June 24, 2011, the two sides met in Kazan, Russia, to negotiate an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, but the talks ended in failure. Following the breakdown of talks, the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev used the June 26 Salvation Day military parade to warn Armenia that Azerbaijan may retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force.[17] On 5 October 2011, border clashes around Nagorno Karabakh left one Armenian soldier and two Azeris dead. Two Armenians were also wounded by sniper fire the same day.[18] Another violent incident occurred on 5 June 2012 when, according to the Azerbaijani side, Armenian troops crossed the border and shot dead five Azerbaijani soldiers before withdrawing. Armenia denied the claim and accused Azerbaijan of crossing the border first.[19]

In October 2013, Zakir Hasanov was appointed as Azerbaijani Defence Minister despite controversy.[citation needed]

From July 27 to August 8, 2014, clashes began once again between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. Reported casualties of the clashes were some of the highest since the 1994 ceasefire agreement that ended the first Nagorno-Karabakh War.[20]

2016 clashesEdit

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meets with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Davos, Switzerland, January 2019

After the 2016 clashes, in which an estimated 350 troops and civilians from both sides were killed, Azerbaijan declared a unilateral cease fire (the clashes started when Azerbaijani forces launched strikes to regain control of territory occupied by the Armenia-backed breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh).[21][22]

Fighting in 2020Edit

Both sides clashed weaponry on the Armenia–Azerbaijan border: Tavush and Tovuz (respectively) from 12 until 18 July 2020. Involved were artillery, tanks, and shock drones, and killed were at least 17 soldiers and a civilian. Many more were injured. Both sides reported four commanding or junior officer-rank army deaths, an Azeri being a major general.[23]

On September 27, 2020, heavy fighting along the line of contact between locally based Armenian and Azeri troops resumed. Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh (or the de facto territory of Artsakh), and Azerbaijan declaring martial law and mobilizing new and existing conscripts and professional soldiers.[24]

On October 9, 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet appealed for an urgent ceasefire, citing civilian sufferings in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. She also raised concerns about overpopulated areas that were becoming targets for the heavy weaponry attacks.[25]

On October 17 a new ceasefire agreement was announced by the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers following phone calls between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts. Lavrov strongly urged the countries to abide by the Moscow deal.[26] However, both sides have accused each other of violating the truce further continuing the conflict. Bachelet expressed concerns on possible war crimes during the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. On October 30, 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an agreement that abstained them from deliberately targeting the civilians’ population, despite which artillery strikes in populated areas were reported.[27]


Frontlines at the time of the signing of the agreement with Azerbaijan's territorial gains during the war in red, the Lachin corridor under Russian peacekeepers in blue, and areas to be surrendered by Armenia to Azerbaijan hashed

A ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia and agreed upon by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Artsakh (non-signatory) on November 9, 2020, and effective since midnight November 10, 2020, Moscow Time ended all hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.[28][29][30] Azerbaijan claimed victory as it gained control of 5 cities, 4 towns, 240 villages and the entire Azerbaijan–Iran border.[31] Some parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, along with all Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh are to be ceded to Azerbaijan by December 1, 2020. Azerbaijan was also granted direct land access to its exclave of Nakhchivan via a corridor through Armenia.[32]

Around 2,000 Russian soldiers, led by Rustam Muradov,[33] will be deployed as peacekeeping forces to protect the land corridor between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region for a mandate of at least five years.[34] Russian forces will also guarantee the roads connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan.[35]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Leupold, David (2020). Embattled Dreamlands. The Politics of Contesting Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish Memory. New York: Routledge. p. 194.
  2. ^ ARPIISSA, f. 1, op. 222, d. 72, pp. 1–2
  3. ^ a b Henze, Paul B. (1 January 1991). "The demography of the Caucasus according to 1989 Soviet census data". Central Asian Survey. 10 (1–2): 147–170. doi:10.1080/02634939108400741. ISSN 0263-4937. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  4. ^ Human rights and democratization in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, Volume 4; Volume 85. United States. Congress. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. 1993. p. 125.
  5. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Azeri jets bomb capital of enclave - Aug 23, 1992
  6. ^ Bloodshed in the Caucasus: escalation of the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Human Rights Watch, 1992. ISBN 1-56432-081-2, 9781564320810, p. 32
  7. ^ "Human Rights Watch World Report - The Former Soviet Union". Human Rights Watch.
  8. ^ Bloodshed in the Caucasus: escalation of the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. 1992, page 12; 34
  9. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2004). Black garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war. ABC-CLIO. pp. 172–173. ISBN 0-8147-1945-7. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016.
  10. ^ Kristen Eichensehr, William Michael Reisman. Stopping wars and making peace: studies in international intervention, 2009, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers p. 63,
  11. ^ Annika Rabo, Bo Utas. "The role of the state in West Asia", Istanbul 2005, p. 175,
  12. ^ a b Azerbaijani president: Armenians are guests in Yerevan Archived 2009-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, REGNUM News Agency, January 17, 2008
  13. ^ Azerbaijan Country Page Archived 2009-03-08 at the Wayback Machine. NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia. Accessed 23 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Azerbaijan doesn't allow Armenians in the country -". Archived from the original on 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  15. ^ "Four Armenians and one Azeri killed in Karabakh clash". Reuters. 2010-06-19. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  16. ^ "BBC News - Several killed in Nagorno-Karabakh clash". 2010-09-01. Archived from the original on 2010-09-03. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  17. ^ "Armenia, Azerbaijan fail to reach agreement on Nagorny Karabakh | World | RIA Novosti". 2012-04-09. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  18. ^ "News from Armenia, Events in Armenia, Travel and Entertainment | Armenia, Azerbaijan Report More Deadly Skirmishes". 2011-10-06. Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  19. ^ "BBC News - Armenian forces kill five Azerbaijani troops on border". 2012-06-05. Archived from the original on 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  20. ^ Khojoyan, Sara; Agayev, Zulfugar (1 August 2014). "Azerbaijan-Armenia Border Skirmishes Turn Deadliest in 20 Years". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  21. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh fighting: Azerbaijan 'calls truce'" ( BBC. BBC. 3 April 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  22. ^ Botelho, Greg; Tuysuz, Gul; Berlinger, Joshua (3 April 2016). "Azerbaijan declares unilateral ceasefire amid Nagorno-Karabakh violence" (CNN Online). Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Armenia-Azerbaijan: What's Behind Latest Clashes?". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 2020-08-27.
  24. ^ "Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes kill at least 16, undermine regional stability". Reuters. 2020-08-27.
  25. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh: UN rights chief calls for urgent ceasefire as hostilities mount". UN News. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Armenia, Azerbaijan announce new attempt to establish Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire". CBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  27. ^ "UN rights chief warns of possible war crimes in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict". UN News. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  28. ^ "Путин выступил с заявлением о прекращении огня в Карабахе". RIA Novosti (in Russian). 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Пашинян заявил о прекращении боевых действий в Карабахе". RIA Novosti (in Russian). 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Президент непризнанной НКР дал согласие закончить войну". RIA Novosti (in Russian). 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  31. ^ "Son dakika haberi: Azerbaycan Cumhurbaşkanı duyurdu: 49 yerleşim yeri daha kurtarıldı". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 9 November 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  32. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (10 November 2020). "Facing Military Debacle, Armenia Accepts a Deal in Nagorno-Karabakh War". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  33. ^ "General Rustam Muradov is appointed Commander of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh". Turan Information Agency. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  34. ^ "Deal Struck to End Nagorno-Karabakh War". The Moscow Times. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia sign Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal". BBC News. 10 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

Further readingEdit