Context- Azerbaijan has launched an anti-terror operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying it will not end until ethnic Armenian separatists surrender.
- Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous and heavily forested region located south of the Caucasus.
- The region covers the northeastern side of the Karabakh Mountains in the Lesser Caucasus and extends from the spine of the region to the lower edge of the Kura River at its foothills.
- Disputed Area
- According to international law, this region is recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
- However, ethnic Armenians, who make up the majority of the population, oppose Azeri rule.
- In the 1990s, Azerbaijani soldiers were pushed out of the region as a result of the war.
- Since then, these ethnic Armenians have been under the administrative control of Nagorno-Karabakh with the support of Armenia.
Origin of the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan
- In the early 1920s, after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the new Soviet rulers established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region with an ethnic Armenian majority.
- This region was established in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan.
- As Soviet control loosened in the late 1980s, friction between Armenians and Azeri erupted into violence when the region’s parliament voted to join Armenia.
- During the fighting, ethnic Armenians gained control of the region.
- They also occupied Azeri territory outside Karabakh and created a buffer zone connecting Karabakh and Armenia.
- After the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, Karabakh declared itself an independent republic, further escalating the conflict into a full-scale war.
- This de facto status was not recognized elsewhere.
Ceasefire & September 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan
- A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in 1994, when Karabakh and the surrounding Azeri territories remained in Armenian hands.
- After the ceasefire, there was a stalemate until September 2020.
- In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched an offensive to recapture the territory around Karabakh.
- As a result, at least 100 civilians and Armenian fighters were killed.
- Again, the peace treaty was brokered by Russia. According to that agreement, both sides decided to maintain their position in the territories they held at the time.
- This resulted in a major victory for Azerbaijan, which regained more than 15-20 percent of the territory lost during the recent conflict.
What is the interest for other countries in the region?
- Due to the involvement of regional rivals Turkey and Russia, this conflict received global attention.
- Muslim majority Turkey is a NATO ally and supports Azerbaijan.
- Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan can be seen as an attempt to counter Russian influence in the South Caucasus region.
- In 1991, Turkey was the first to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan.
- On the other hand, Armenia is a member of the Russian-led CSTO.
- For all other countries, the region is an important transit route for the supply of oil and natural gas to the European Union.
- Some of these pipelines pass through an area close to a conflict zone.
- This could disrupt oil and gas exports from the region.
India and Dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan
- There is no specific policy
- India does not have a specific public policy such as “Neighborhood First Policy” or “Act East” in the South Caucasus region.
- At the same time, India’s relations with the countries of the region (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, etc.) show a sharp contrast.
- Relations with Armenia
- India and Armenia signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in December 1995.
- If the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region spreads into Armenian territory, this agreement prohibits India from providing military or other aid to Azerbaijan.
- Armenia openly supported India on the Kashmir issue, while Azerbaijan supported Pakistan.
- Relations with Azerbaijan
- Indian public sector company ONGC Videsh Limited has an oil field project invested in Azerbaijan.
- GAIL is exploring collaboration opportunities in the field of LNG.
- Azerbaijan is an important country located on the route of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
- India’s insistence on a peaceful resolution of the conflict through diplomatic negotiations without support from either side is a positive step.
Source: Indian Express
- Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is in which of the following countries:
- Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan
- UK and France
- Israel and Palestine
- Azerbaijan and Armenia