Nagorno Karabakh, a mountainous territory the size of the community of La Rioja, Always populated mostly by Armenians, was incorporated into Azerbaijan in 1921 according to a resolution of the local section of the Communist Party. Before, Armenians (Christians) and Azerbaijanis (Muslims) had clashed on religious grounds. Hence, the former did not approve of the enclave being handed over to Azerbaijan.
Later, during the turbulent years of Mikhail Gorbachev’s “perestroika” in February 1988, there was a bloody guard gangs attack by local authorities against the Armenian population in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. That event, which had a huge repercussion throughout the Soviet Union, encouraged the Karabakh Armenians to request the secession of Azerbaijan. Some with the intention of creating an independent state and others with the idea of joining Armenia.
So, the Supreme Soviet of the Socialist Republic of Armenia approved, in 1988, a motion to annex Nagorno Karabakh, a decision that was overruled by Moscow and did not have legal effect.
But tempers flared and confrontations began that led to the beginning of a bloody war in 1991, just the year when the USSR disintegrated. Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent countries and Nagorno Karabakh as well they proclaimed themselves independent after holding a referendum. The fighting lasted until 1994, causing some 30,000 deaths and an influx of more than a million Azerbaijani refugees.
In solidarity with its brothers, Turkey closed the border with Armenia in 1993. This measure brought to the fore among Armenians the memory of sufferings and offenses inflicted on them by the Ottoman Empire during the genocide of 1915.
A truce, not peace, was signed in Kyrgyzstan in 1994 and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) created the Minsk group, chaired by Russia, the United States and France, but also made up of Germany, Belarus. , Finland, Italy, Sweden and Turkey, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since then there has been no way to resolve the dispute, since Baku, which has the support of the UN, demands the return of the territory to which Yerevan refuses.
Since then, sporadic clashes and the trickle of deaths have continued. The most serious moment was lived in April 2016, during the so-called “four-day war”. Hundreds were killed and wounded on both sides. There have also been armed clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops in other points of the border, not only in Nagorno Karabakh, such was the case last July in Tavush, in the northern part.
The shootings began on July 12 and broke out because the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliev, threatened to definitively plant the peace negotiations and assured that his country has the right to resort to a “military solution”. Armenia and Azerbaijan have not been able to resolve the conflict for 30 years. Baku demands the return of the province, which would receive broad autonomy, and the withdrawal of the Armenian troops. Yerevan, for its part, appeals to the right of self-determination of the Karabakh population.