Confusion continued over territorial integrity in 1920 when the Armenians refused to accept the decision of the Ottoman and British policies of making Karabakh part of Azerbaijan. The Bolsheviks in 1920 added to the geopolitical angst of the region by rearranging the borders and giving the areas of Nakhichevan, Karabakh, and Zangezur to Armenia. The decision was reversed shortly thereafter, however, and Azerbaijan quickly reclaimed the territory. An agreement was then reached in 1923, allowing the region autonomy within Azerbaijan. This "marriage" of the two regions has been a point of contention throughout the Cold War era, and differences had begun to emerge dominantly in 1988.
The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan may have resulted from the "not so stringent" attitude due to glasnost. On February 20, 1988, the local assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh called a resolution to transfer the region from Azerbaijani to Armenian jurisdiction. In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev, who had originally been sympathetic to the Armenian cause, reversed his opinion, and shifted toward the Azerbaijani position (Goldman, 154). Rising nationalism in both Armenia and Azerbaijan was prevalent as a result of this move, as well as several anti-Armenian riots that had occurred in Azerbaijan. The movement for independence in Azerbaijan first gained momentum in 1988, to counter the rising Armenian nationalism in Nagorno-Karabakh (Hunter, 58). As a result, anti-Armenian riots had broken out in the Azeri city of Sumgait, which some had characterized as pogroms (Hunter, 99). These riots were the catalyst for the commencement of full-fledged war between the two republics.
What followed was a forced population transfer. Hundreds of thousands Armenians and Azeris who had been living outside of their own republic had lost their homes and possessions as they fled back to their native lands, either forcibly, or in fear of anticipated violence. The end of 1991 brought with it not only the fall of Communism, but an open and ugly war between two republics.
Azerbaijan has an area of 33,440 square miles (86,600 sq km) and is bordered by Russia on the north, Georgia on the northwest, Armenia on the west, Iran on the south, and the Caspian Sea on the east. Azerbaijan, situated on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, occupies one of the Asian continent's strategic crossroads between East and West.
Region: Mideast Asia
The exodus of Azeris from Armenia undermined a large proportion of Armenia's agriculture, as many of the Azeris were farmers.
By accepting the Russian bartered cease fire in 1994, Armenia had been rewarded financially by Russia. Armenia had used some of the money Russia had given the country to reactivate the Medsamor nuclear power plant to supply heat and energy to the country (see ARMENIA)
Act Site Harm Site Example Azerbaijan Armenia Deforestation due to war
Armenians feel that if Nagorno-Karabakh remains in Azerbaijan, the Armenians will face extinction (and are reminded of the genocide of 1915 at the hands of the Turks, who were exterminating Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire's eastern provinces). Azeris claim that the loss of Karabakh is a blow to their independence.
The Armenia/Azerbaijan Initiative
Goldenberg, Suzanne. Pride of Small Nations: the Caucasus and Post-Soviet Disorder, 1994.
Hunter, Shireen T. The Transcaucasus in Transition: nation building and conflict, Washington, D.C.; The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1994.
Huttenbach, Henry R. "Post-Soviet Crisis and Disorder in Transcaucasia" Political Culture and Civil Society in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, 1995.
Soghom, Mardiros. "Russia Says Nagorno-Karabakh Must Remain Part of
Azerbaijan" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 09 December 1996.