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The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict From its Inceotion to the Peace Process

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kamer KASIM*
Armenian Studies, Issue 2, June-July-August 2001

 .u="justify">The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict affected the entire Caucasus region and became one of the bloodiest ethnic conflicts, claiming 25,000 lives and creating one million refugees, which represents about 14 percent of the entire Azerbaijani population and it is the highest percentage of any national population in the world living as refugees and displaced persons.

 The conflict started before the collapse of the Soviet Union and continued after its end. The two newly independent states Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign policy makers mainly engaged with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Armenian side demanded either incorporation of the Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia or establishing an independent ‘Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’. Azerbaijan argued that the Nagorno-Karabakh was inseparable part of Azerbaijan and secession of Nagorno-Karabakh was unacceptable for Azerbaijan. The conflict ended in 1994 with a ceasefire agreement. As a result of the conflict, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan remained under the Armenian occupation.

This article will evaluate the Nagorno Karabakh conflict from its inception to its end. Main focus of the article will be Armenia and Azerbaijan’s policy towards the conflict and the peace process. The article argues that Armenia faces foreign policy dilemma in its policy towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the one hand Armenia supported Karabakh Armenians’ secessionist claims and provided military and non-military supplies to them. On the other hand, Armenia claimed that it had no connection with Karabakh Armenians and Armenia did not supply arms to the Karabakh. The Armenian government faced difficulty after Khojaly massacre and allegations of Armenian forces cruelty to the civilian population of the town. In the context of the peace process, the regional powers’ and the United States policy towards the conflict will also be dealt with.


The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) was created by the decision of the Kavburo (Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party Central Committee), taken on July 5, 1921. Nagorno-Karabakh was placed under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan but it was granted substantial regional autonomy.[1] In 1923 the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh was moved from Shusha to Khankend (later its name was changed as Stepanakert). Armenians had attempted to transfer the region to the Armenian control. In 1964, 25,00 Karabakh Armenians signed a petition in which they demanded reincorporation into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia.[2] Another petition was sent to Moscow one year later and both of them failed to get any result. Until Gorbachev era Armenians did not manage to form an effective movement. However, Gorbachev’s democratization policy gave impetus for political movements in Soviet republics. Armenian nationalist movement organized demonstrations in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1987, a petition was signed by 75,000 Armenian that demanded Nagorno-Karabakh’s unification with Armenia. In the same year Haydar Aliyev who was an opponent of Armenians’ claim for Nagorno-Karabakh, removed from Politburo. In February 1988, demonstrations and violent riots erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh, during which Azeris were forced out of Stepanakert. In July 1988, the Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh in which Armenians were majority passed a resolution demanding to be put under the Armenian jurisdiction. The USSR Supreme Soviet rejected Karabakh Soviet’s demand. Armenians formed Karabakh Committee under the leadership of Levon Ter-Petrosyan. The Committee was anticommunist organization and strong supporter of Nagorno-Karabakh’s unification with Armenia. As a reaction to the developments in Nagorno-Karabakh, nationalist opposition emerged in Azerbaijan. In March 1989, the Popular Front of Azerbaijan (PFA) was formed and demanded the restoration of direct control of Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh. In order to prevent clashes between Armenians and Azeris, Moscow imposed its direct rule over the Nagorno-Karabakh. In November 1989 this direct rule was lifted and the Nagorno-Karabakh returned to the direct control of Azerbaijan. After that Supreme Soviet of Armenia declared Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of the Republic of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s Supreme Soviet rejected the decision and considered it as a violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. [3] At the end of 1989 violence against Azeri population of Karabakh increased and Azeri population was forced to leave. Moscow and Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan’s inability to stop attacks caused angry demonstrations in Baku. Moscow sent troops and declared state of emergency on 15 January 1990. The intervention was called ‘Black January’ by the Azeris. The Soviet intervention caused hundreds of death and the PFA’s office was closed and its members were arrested.[4] The intervention increased the popularity of the PFA. The Azerbaijani Communist Party’s leadership was also changed and Ayaz Mutalibov became the first secretary of the party. To get back the lost prestige of the Communist Party Mutalibov had to make effort to stop Armenian militias attacked to the Azeris. Soviet Army forces with support of Azeri units conducted military operation, which was called ‘Operation Ring’ against Armenian militias. Operation Ring failed to stop Armenian militias and Karabakh’s secessionist claim.[5] Deterioration in the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tension between the two communities signaled full-scale war in the region before the collapse of the Soviet Union.


In September 1991 Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their independence. Karabakh National Council also declared the independent republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus the conflict was transformed from inter state conflict to the one between states. The Armenian forces took control of the north and southwest of Stepanakert in February 1992 and they surrounded Khojaly, Azeri inhabited enclave in Nagorno-Karabakh. Khojaly was the only town in Nagorno-Karabakh with an airport suitable for large-winged aircraft. The Armenian forces took the town and it became a barrier against an offensive on Stepanakert. The fall of Khojaly was the first important loss for Azerbaijan, and it was an important strategic gain for the Armenian militias.[6] When the Karabakh forces captured Khojaly, killing many civilians in the process, the Azeri sources claimed that the massacre allegedly perpetrated with the help of Russian troops, resulted in the death of 1000 people.[7] The Khojaly massacre was the most important development; which turned international media’s attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. For example, in Newsweek, under the title of ‘Face of a Massacre’ Khojaly incident was described as killings of ordinary Azerbaijani Men, women and children. It also mentioned that many were killed at close range while trying to flee; some had their faces mutilated.[8] The New York Times under the title of ‘Massacre By Armenians’ wrote about burned and scalped bodies of victims.[9] The Khojaly massacre had also regional implications. Regional powers, Turkey, Russia and Iran concerned about further destabilization of the region. In Turkey demonstrations were organized in which demonstrators demanded Turkey’s military intervention to support Azerbaijan. The opposition parties in the Turkish parliament criticized the government’s policy.[10] Turkey only imposed an economic blockade on Armenia.

Russian regiment of 366th was accused of involving the Khojaly massacre. [11] Russia denied the accusation. However Russia’s ambassador to Turkey stated that deserted soldiers might have taken part in some incidents.[12]  

After the invasion of Khojaly, the Armenian forces continued their advances and Lachin and Shusha, the two remaining towns under the control of Azerbaijan, were also captured by the Armenian forces. Thus the Azerbaijani forces were pushed out of Nagorno-Karabakh and a physical link between the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh was established.[13] It encouraged further Armenian advances inside Azerbaijan and on the 19th of May 1992, Armenian militias attacked Nakhichevan, an autonomous region of Azerbaijan. Turkish-Russian relations were deteriorated due to the attack. The possibility of Turkish military intervention was discussed in Turkey, with reference to the 1921 Kars Treaty with Russia, which gave Turkey the right to intervene to protect the status of Nakhichevan. President Özal openly suggested sending troops to Nakhichevan.[14] Turkish foreign policy makers worried that Turkey’s failure to support Azerbaijan would undermine the confidence of the Turkic republics in Turkey and the decline of Turkey’s status as a regional power might result in the growth of Russian and Iranian influence in the region.[15]

For the first time after the Cold War Turkey was faced with the possibility of a military confrontation with Russia. The Commander of the CIS Joint Armed Forces Marshal Shaposhnikov dramatically warned, “Turkey’s intervention could create a Third World War”. [16] In May 1992, The Tashkent Collective Security Treaty was signed by Russia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. According to the article four of the Treaty: “If one of the participating states is subjected to aggression by any state or group of states, this will be perceived as aggression against all participating states to the Treaty”.[17] Since Russia and Armenia were signatories to the treaty, Turkey’s attack on Armenia would have been treated as an attack on Russia.

Since the Armenian militias stopped attacking Nakhichevan after the Turkish government’s warning to Armenia, the Nakhichevan crisis ended without causing any military confrontation involving Turkey. However, the Nakhichevan crisis indicated that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had effects beyond Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also affected Azerbaijan’s domestic stability and made it vulnerable to the Russian influence. Armenian militias’ success on the battlefield weakened the governments in Azerbaijan. The first change in the government came after the fall of Shusha, which was the last town under the control of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. President Muttalibov resigned and Popular Front’s leader Elçibey was elected President in June 1992. With the Elçibey’s presidency Azerbaijan took radical steps to make significant changes in its foreign policy. The first change in Elçibey’s foreign policy was suspending Azerbaijan‘s membership in the CIS, which had been signed by the previous President Muttalibov but never ratified by the Azerbaijani parliament. [18] The second one was the oil pipeline proposal with Turkey to build a pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan to transport Caspian oil to the international market.[19] Elçibey strove to make Turkey the primary focus of Azerbaijani foreign relations. He believed that Turkey could use its ties with the West to explain the Azeri view of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan rejected to join the CIS and called for the withdrawal of all Russian troops.[20]

Elçibey’s foreign policy orientations were not sustained. Firstly, Elçibey’s pro-Turkish policies was regarded as dangerous for Russian national interests in the Caucasus and Russia extended its support for the Armenian militias to weaken Elçibey’s government and ultimately he was forced out of office by a Russian-backed coup. [21] Secondly, Elçibey promised to solve the Karabakh problem by September 1992. Although at the beginning of Elçibey’s presidency, Azerbaijan launched some successful military advances against the Armenians, recapturing Agdere and some parts of the Lachin corridor. Subsequently, however, the Armenian militias captured Kelbajar, separating Armenia from Karabakh in March 1993. [22] Azerbaijan’s continued failure on the battlefield weakened Elçibey’s government and provided Russia with the means to exploit instability for its geopolitical benefit. The Popular Front government was also unable to tackle the process of economic decline, which accelerated especially with the refugees flowing from the territories under the Armenian occupation. As a result, the opposition parties became stronger at the expense of the PFA. Among the opposition, the New Azerbaijan Party and its leader Haydar Aliyev’s popularity increased. [23] After he became President, Azerbaijan joined the CIS and Aliyev did agree to a 10 % share for the Russian company LUKOIL to exploit three oil fields in the Caspian Sea.[24] Aliyev’s priority was to achieve at least a ceasefire with Armenia in order to stabilize Azerbaijan. Aliyev also tried to influence on Russian policy towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Being a former Soviet polite bureau member Aliyev had advantage of knowing Russian policy-making process. In fact with Aliyev’s Presidency Russia evaluated the seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh as a violation of international law and condemned it. Aliyev managed a ceasefire in May 1994, which enabled Azerbaijan to concentrate on economic development and exploitation and transportation of Caspian oil. Peace process of the conflict will be evaluated later. Before that the legal aspects of the conflict will briefly be dealt with.


In the former Soviet Union, Armenians were the only people who had both a Union Republic and Autonomous Region status in the territory of another Union Republic (Azerbaijan).[25] As it was mentioned above with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent states and the Nagorno-Karabakh also declared itself as an independent Republic. Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh stated that they used their right of self-determination and claimed that under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan, Armenians discriminated against in economic terms. Commonwealth Treaty, which was signed by eleven former Soviet republics, guaranteed territorial integrity of each member state. Thus Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan contradicted the Treaty. Armenians use of force to change recognized border of Azerbaijan was also violation of the Helsinki Final Act, the UN Charter, Charter of Paris, and the CSCE. For example, Charter of Paris stated that

“In accordance with our obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and commitments under the Helsinki Final Act, we renew our pledge to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of political independence of any State or from acting in any other manner inconsistent with the principles or purposes of those documents. We recall that non-compliance with Obligations under the Charter of the United Nations constitutes a violation of international law."[26]

Azerbaijan. After the Khojaly massacre, the government of Armenia was concerned about the possible international criticism and tried to hide its active support for Karabakh Armenians in the conflict. However, international observes indicated that the Armenian military forces did take part in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[27] Besides the government of Armenia did not denounce its decision to consider the Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of Armenia. The OSCE also recognized Azerbaijan and Armenia as direct parties to the conflict and elected and other representatives of the Nagorno-Karabakh as interested parties.[28] Armenian foreign policy makers faced difficulty to explain Armenia’s Karabakh policy to the international community. While Armenia was supporting Karabakh Armenians during the conflict, the government of Armenia considered the conflict as internal matter of Azerbaijan. Armenia’s support and strong linkages with the Nagorno-Karabakh administration was so obvious. In fact as it will be discussed later, Robert Kocharian, the former President of ‘the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’ became the President of Armenia in 1998. During the peace process, which will be discussed below, representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan took part in the negotiations.


In 1992, a peace process was instituted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (-OSCE- since 1994 renamed OSCE, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). It was the first conflict, in which the UN gave the regional security institution OSCE the mandate for negotiations. The process initiated by the OSCE called Minsk process and it is being co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia, with active participation of several other European governments. The old rivalries among the members of the OSCE have been renewed which had negative influence on negotiations. The OSCE’s conflict resolution framework emphasized the importance of economic development in the conflicting parties. However, it underestimated the importance of security concerns and the role of history. In the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the lack of economic development of the region was not the reason for war between Armenians and Azeris. The reason was Armenian historical claim of the Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan’s concern of territorial integrity. Despite the fact that the OSCE had some disadvantages, after the 1994 ceasefire agreement the organization became an effective broker between Azerbaijan and Armenia. At the OSCE Lisbon Summit in December 1996 a set of principles was accepted which recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Following the Lisbon Summit, Minsk Group co-chairmen initiated a peace proposal, which called the withdrawal of all occupying Armenian armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas of Azerbaijan, and the return of all refugees to their homes. The Armenian side considered the Lisbon principles as prejudicing future talks on the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh. During the Presidency of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, there were some constructive talks within the framework of Minsk Group.[29] However, after Kocharian became President, Armenia demanded direct negotiation between Azerbaijan and Armenian leaders in Nagorno-Karabakh. The demand was unacceptable for Azerbaijan, since Azerbaijan did not recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh administration. For Azerbaijan a solution must be realized through the OSCE Minsk Group and Nagorno-Karabakh must remain a part of Azerbaijan. In the last year of the presidency of Petrosyan, positive dialogue was started between the parties of the conflict and international organizations to reach a final settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. Petrosyan supported the OSCE’s peace plan, which suggested Armenian troops’ withdrawal from the east of Karabakh.[30] One of the problems, which created difficulty in the negotiations, was the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory outside Nagorno-Karabakh. Petrosyan suggested more flexible policy over Karabakh. However, Petrosyan’s policy in the peace process was met with harsh criticism by hard liners. As was the case in the fall of the two Azerbaijan’s Presidents, Mutalibov and Elçibey, Armenian President Petrosyan also became the victim of Karabakh conflict and he was forced to resign. Robert Kocharian, the former President of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh republic became the President of Armenia after the election on 30th of March 1998. Kocharian insists that the Armenian forces must continue to occupy Azerbaijani territory outside the Nagorno-Karabakh until Azerbaijan makes concessions over the status of the disputed enclave. Azerbaijan wanted the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from territory of Azerbaijan and the return of refugees. After that the talks over the future status of the Nagorno-Karabakh would be started. The Armenian side clearly wanted to use the occupied territories outside the Karabakh as trading chips.  

In September 1997 OSCE proposed step-by-step solution, which was accepted by the Armenian President Petrosyan.[31] However, Kocharian recalled the consent of Petrosyan to step-by-step proposal.

Besides the efforts of the OSCE, the UN Security Council and the regional powers also played a role in the peace process.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) also passed several resolutions regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The UNSC resolution (822) was passed on 30 April 1993 and called for an immediate cease-fire and the prompt withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbajer district and the other occupied areas of Azerbaijan. [32] Following the UNSC resolutions of 853, 874 and 884 reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of international borders. The resolution 853 also called on the government of the Republic of Armenia to continue to exert its influence on Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to accept the UNSC resolution.[33]

Among the regional powers, Russia was particularly eager to initiate its own peace proposal. As it was mentioned above during the Elçibey Era in Azerbaijan, Russia supported the Armenian side in order to force Azerbaijan into the CIS. After Aliyev became President of Azerbaijan, Russia played an active role as a mediator in the conflict. Due to the ineffectiveness of international organizations to find a solution, Aliyev asked for the Russian mediation. Given the fact that Azerbaijan accused the Russian troops of being suppliers of weapons to the Armenian side, Azerbaijan’s demand for Russian mediation indicated that the government of Azerbaijan was reconsidering the Russian position towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[34] Russian mediation managed to provide a temporary cease-fire, but was unable to provide a political settlement of the conflict. Russia proposed deploying peacekeeping troops in the conflict zone, which was not acceptable for Azerbaijan, since without the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani territories, the placement of a Russian force could cement the separation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan.[35] Due to the strong opposition from the government of Azerbaijan, Russia changed its mediation strategy, inviting other CIS members to play a role in the process. In May 1994, the protocol, which had been negotiated under the aegis of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, was signed in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, by the Chairman of CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, Vladimir Shumeiko and representatives of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The protocol called for a cease-fire, but the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from all Azerbaijan’s territory was not mentioned in the protocol.[36] In 1999 Russian co-chairman of the Minsk Group also proposed the establishment of a ‘common state’ between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh.[37] The proposal was rejected by Azerbaijan since it reversed OSCE Lisbon Summit decision in which Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity was guaranteed.

Turkey preferred any peace plan to be initiated by international organizations. However, Turkey initiated its own peace proposal, which included transferring an Armenian-controlled land bridge between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan to Azerbaijani control and leaving a part of Nagorno-Karabakh under the Armenian control. This would allow Armenia a corridor between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and the proposal would provide Turkey with a direct land link with Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, the proposal was not welcomed by either side. Armenia did not accept Turkey’s proposal because it would lose its direct border with Iran, and Azerbaijan did not accept it because Azerbaijan would lose the Nagorno-Karabakh region.[38] Turkey took diplomatic initiative to bring the Nagorno-Karabakh on the agenda of the UN and the OSCE. During Petrosyan’s presidency in Armenia, there was a sign of improvement in Turkey’s relations with Armenia. However, when Kocharian became president Turkey’s relations with Armenia were deteriorated. The new Armenian government demanded a limit on the number of Turkish officials entitled to carry out inspections of Armenian military bases under the CFE Treaty. The Armenian officials refused to attend the O.S.C.E. meetings taking place in any Turkish city and refused to approve the BSCE initiatives. Due to the Kocharian’s policy, Turkey’s mediation became impossible.[39]

Another regional power Iran also wanted to be a mediator in the conflict. Iran tried to prevent spilled over of the conflict to its territory. Having had substantial number of Azeri minorities, Iran fears to rise of irredentism among its Azeri population. Iran supported territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. However, it had good relations with Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities. Iran tried unsuccessfully to find peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which also disrupted Iranian trade with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Because of the conflict the railway service between Iran and Transcaucasia was shut down. On 8 May 1992, Iran brought together the Armenian and Azeri presidents and an agreement was signed in Tehran. According to the agreement within one week a cease-fire would come into effect and international observes would be admitted into the area and prisoners would be exchanged. However, next day the Armenian militias captured Shusha and continued their attacks. Following Armenian advances, Azerbaijani refugees flooded to the Iranian border creating a big refugee problem for Iran.[40]

The United States’ policy towards Azerbaijan and Armenia affected regional politics. The region was important for the US post-Cold War foreign policy due to its rich energy resources. The main US objective was to guarantee the safe transportation of the energy resources to the world market and a regional conflict like the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict threatened the regional stability. There were differences between Congress and the State Department with regard to the Karabakh policy. In October 1992, the Congress passed the Freedom Support Act (Section 907), which prevented the US government from sending humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan. Section 907 blamed Azerbaijan for blockading the Armenian territory and offensive use of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The U.S. Congress decision did not reflect the reality. Communication commercial infrastructure including rail lines, roads and pipelines broke down due to the conflict. On the contrary to the claim of Azerbaijan’s blockade of Armenia, 130 kilometers of the railway line, which comes from Azerbaijan and goes to Armenia passing through the Iranian border is under the occupation of Armenia.[41] Azerbaijan has no access to the territories under the Armenian occupation. The Congress allegation of offensive use of force is also quite odd with the reality. Since one-fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory is under the Armenian occupation.[42] Despite the fact that the Congress passed the Freedom Support Act, the State Department tried to pursue a more balanced policy. The Clinton administration tried to lift the Freedom Support Act’s restriction on Azerbaijan. In 1994, the Clinton administration proposed a bill to lift the aid restrictions to Azerbaijan. The bill faced strong opposition from pro-Armenian representatives and interestingly, they demanded the continuation of the ban on American assistance to Azerbaijan until the Azerbaijani troops ceased their occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, at that time Azerbaijan was not in control in Nagorno-Karabakh and, on the contrary, Armenian forces were occupying not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also 12 % of the territory of Azerbaijan outside the Nagorno-Karabakh. This policy of the Congress contradicted the US interests with regards to the exploitation and transportation of the Caspian oil. With its rich oil resources, Azerbaijan is the key state for the US policy in the Caucasus.[43] In 1992 and 1994 the US Congress acted under the influence of the Armenian lobby.  But in 1997 and 1998 the Congress approved some exceptions to the Section 907. These exceptions included democracy building programs and the activities of the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Trade and Development Agency (TDA) and the Foreign Commercial Service. Clinton Administration played a mediator role between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since 1999 the negotiations have been conducted in the bilateral level. The future political status of the Nagorno-Karabakh is the main issue, which has to be negotiated. Azerbaijan has not recognized the Nagorno-Karabakh administration as a side for negotiation. Since the Azeri population was driven out from Karabakh, the representation of the Azeri population of Nagorno-Karabakh would be a problem. The President Bush also took initiative for the resolution of the conflict. President of Azerbaijan Haydar Aliyev, Armenian President Kocharian and the US President Bush came together in Key West, Florida on 3-6 April 2001. They decided to continue negotiations in cooperation with the OSCE Minsk Group.[44] After the Florida talks, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh and Philippe de Suramaen went to Baku and Karabakh. This diplomatic trip aimed to look more extensively at the situation on the ground.[45]          

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict prevented Armenia and Azerbaijan’s economic recovery and political stability. Azerbaijan lost 20 % of its territory and about one million refugees from the occupied territories caused economic destruction. Armenia is also suffered economically. Armenian side has realized that military victory in the war does not provide economic and political stability and does not lead to the international recognition of the occupation. Armenian side’s insistence to continue the occupation made Armenia totally depended on Russia and Armenia became a Russian client state. Ter-Petrosyan’s relatively moderate policy was replaced with hawkish policy after Kocharian became the President of Armenia. However, after one year passed in his Presidency, Kocharian agreed on bilateral talks with Azerbaijan.

Regional powers, Russia, Turkey and Iran as well as the US took also part in the peace process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Among regional powers, Russia is particularly important, since it is the only regional state, which can influence Armenia. Hard liners in Armenia want to continue the state of war and they consider Russia their ally in this policy. They rely on Russia’s aim to keep western influence out of the Caucasus. Russia’s position lately became more constructive as they supported the Key West talks. Russia’s pressure on the Armenian side for the settlement will force Armenia to make concession. However, in return, Russia may demand to get military base on Azerbaijan’s territory.  As a global power the US policy has implications in the entire region. Congress decision of Section 907 was not a constructive in terms of the United States’ role in the peace process. For the US, transportation of Caspian oil to the world market increased the importance of stability in the Caucasus and the US administration started to play an active role in the peace process.  

The Key West talks can be described as a significant step toward the settlement of the conflict. One of the problems to reach a solution is to prepare public in both states for compromise in order to reach a settlement. Any solution should be discussed in both communities to guarantee its realization. The success of peace process is important for regional stability and economic and political stability of Armenia and Azerbaijan. If the peace process fails, Armenia and Azerbaijan may seek a military solution to the dispute.

[1] Michael P.Croissant, The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, Causes and Implications, (London: Preager, 1998), p. 20.
[2] Gerard J. Libaridian (ed), The Karabakh File: Documents and Facts on the Question of Mountainous Karabakh, 1918-1988, (Cambridge: The Zoryan Institute, 1988), pp. 42-46.
[3] FBIS-SOV, 7 December 1989.
[4] For detail analysis of the incident see also Ben Fowkes, The Disintegration of the Soviet Union, a Study in the Rise and Triumph and Nationalism, (London: MacMilian Press, 1997).
[5]   For Operation Ring See, David E. Murphy, ‘Operation Ring’, Journal of Soviet Military Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, March 1992, pp. 80-96.
[6] Michael P. Croissant, The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, Causes and Implications, (Praeger, London, 1998), pp. 78. See Svante E. Cornell, ‘Turkey and the Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh: A Delicate Balance’, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 34, no. 1, January 1998, pp. 59-60. Interfax 1 March 1992.
[7] Interfax, 6 March 1992.
[8] Pascal Privat and Steve Le Vine, ‘Faces of Massacre’, Newsweek, 16 March 1992.
[9] The New York Times, ‘Massacre by Armenians’, 3 March 1992. Some of the other articles and news: Thomas Goltz, ‘Armenian Soldiers Massacre Hundreds Of Fleeing Families’, The Sunday Times, 1 March 1992. Time, ‘Massacre in Khojaly’, 16 March 1992. The Washington Times, ‘Armenian Raid Leaves Azeris Dead or Fleeing’, 2 March 1992.
[10] Anadolu Haber Ajans?, 4 Mart 1992. Milliyet 5 Mart 1992.
[11] Interfax, 27 February 1992.
[12] Milliyet, 13 Nisan 1993.
[13] ITAR-TASS World Service 14 May 1992.
[14] Hürriyet, ‘Özal: Asker Gönderin’, 19 May 1992.
[15] Elizabeth Fuller, ‘Can Turkey Remain Neutral’, RFE/RL, 3 April 1992, p. 37.
[16] Financial Times, 20 May 1992. Amberin Zaman, ‘Azerbaijan Looks to Ankara’, The Middle East, no. 213, July 1992, p. 8.
[17] FBIS-SOV, 26 May 1992, p. 53.
[18] Elizabeth Fuller, ‘Azerbaijan’s relations with Russia and the CIS’, RFE/RL, 30 October 1992, p. 54
[19] Amalia Van Gent, ‘Azerbaijan: Oil, Armenians, Russians and Refugees’, Swiss Review of World Affairs, no. 2, February 1994, p. 22
[20] W.W, Maggs, ‘Armenia And Azerbaijan: Looking Toward The Middle East’ Current History Journal, Vol. 92, No. 570, 1993, P. 8.
[21] Thomas Goltz, ‘Letter from Eurasia: The Hidden Russian Hand’, Foreign Policy, no. 92, fall, 1993, p. 97.
[22] See Charles Van Der Leeuw, ‘Newly Independent Azerbaijan: Ever-Present Gunsmoke and the Kremlin’s Long Arm’, in Antero Leitzinger (ed.) Caucasus and an Unholy Alliance, (Vantaa:Leitzinger Books, 1997), pp. 47-65.
[23] Elizabeth Fuller, Azerbaijan at the Crossroads, (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs and RFE/RL Research Institute), 1994, p. 9.
[24] Bülent Gökay, ‘Caspian Uncertainties: Regional Rivalries and Pipelines’, Perceptions, March-May, 1998, p. 54.
[25] Jeyhun Mollazade, Azarbaijan International, winter 1993.
[26] Charter of Paris for a New Europe, 1990.
[27] Azerbaijan: Seven Years of War (Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, New York, 1994), 67-73
[29] Paul Goble, ‘Caucasus: Analysis from Washington - Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict Risks Recognition’ RFE/RL, 8 May 1998.
[30] The Economist, 2 July 1998.
[31] Roland Eggleston, ‘Negotiators Try New Approach to Karabakh’, RFE/RL, 30 September 1997.
[32] United Nations Security Council, S/RES/1993
[33] United Nations Security Council S/RES, 853, 29 July 1993. See Michael P. Croissant, The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, Causes and Implications, (London: Praeger, 1998), pp. 90-92.
[34] Russia’s Minister of CIS affairs, Aman Tuleyev and Defence Minister Rodionov admitted that 84 T-72 tanks and 50 armoured personnel carriers, 24 Scud missiles and other military equipment had been given to Armenia between 1994-1996. See Martin Sieff, ‘Armenia Armed by Russia for Battles with Azerbaijan’, The Washington Times, 10 April 1997, p. 11.
[35] Turan News, 8 October 1993.
[36] Elizabeth Fuller, ‘Azerbaijan Belatedly Signs Bishkek Karabakh Protocol’, RFE/RL, News Briefs 3, no. 20, 9-13 May 1994.
[37] Tigran Martirosyan, ‘Key West Talks On Nagorno-Karabakh: Will The ‘Caucassian Knot’ Be Cut?’, Central Asia, Caucasus Analyst, 9 May 2001.
[38] Paul A. Goble, “Coping With the Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis”, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 16 (2), summer, 1992, pp. 25-26. See also Kamer Kas?m, ‘The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Caspian Oil and Regional Powers’, in Bülent Gökay (ed), The Politics of Caspian, (London: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 185-198. The US made also the same proposal.
[39] BBC-SWB, 1 June 1998. Elizabeth Fuller, ‘Mediators For Transcaucasia’s Conflict’, The World Today, May 1993, p. 90.
[40] See Gareath. M, Winrow, ‘Azerbaijan And Iran’, In Alvin Rubinstein and Oles M.Smolansky (ed), Regional Power Rivalries In The New Eurasia, (London: M.E.Sharpe, 1995)
[41] Andrew F. Tully, ‘Armenia: Yerevan May Be Losing A Diplomatic Battle’, RFE/RL, 18 September 2000.
[42] Ariel Cohen, ‘US Policy in the Caucasus and Central Asia: Building a New Silk Road to Economic Prosperity’, Backgrounder, no. 1132, 24 July 1997, p. 3. While section 907 punished Azerbaijan, Armenia received $350 million US aid between 1992 and 1996. Svante Cornell, ‘Undeclared War’, Journal Of South Asian And Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 20, no. 4, Fall, 1997, p. 7. For the scale of the US aid See Fact Sheet Armenia, Dispatch, 5/2/1994, vol. 5, issue, 18.
[43] For details See Kamer Kas?m, ‘The US Policy Towards Caspian Oil and Its Implications on Turkish-American Relations’, in Turkish-American Relations, 200 Years of Convergence and Divergence, (London: Frank-Cass, -Forthcoming-)
[44] RFE/RL News Briefs, 9 April 2001.
[45] U.S. Deparrtment of State International Information Programs 21 May 2001.

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- Armenian Studies, Issue 2, June-July-August 2001
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