Even as the United States, France and Russia have called for an immediate halt in the fighting, the on-going conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which began earlier this week, over a piece of land named Nagorno Karabakh has till now claimed scores of lives and shattered the peace and harmony of the entire Trans Caucasus region. The dispute over the territory started with Nagorno Karabakh’s declaration of independence in the early 1990s, after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Till date around 30,000 casualties have been reported in the region and this has led to massive human rights violations and a refugee crisis. Actually, Nagorno Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians.
But the clashes which started earlier this week has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the last about 40 years. The role of neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, in supplying arms to Azerbaijan, in view of its long enmity with Armenia is notable, though Azerbaijan and Armenia have their own border dispute. During the First World War, when Turkey was fighting the Allied powers, Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire revolted. The Turks totally crushed the revolt. However, after the First World War, Azerbaijan and Armenia became a part of the Soviet Union. Initially Stalin, as people’s commissar of nationalities, decided to include Karabakh in Armenia, and the decision was consented by Azerbaijan. But later, under Turkish pressure, Stalin had to redraw the plan.
It needs to be mentioned that France, Russia and the United States are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, a mechanism which was set up in 1992 to address and resolve the issue. A joint statement issued by the three countries said: “We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces.” They urged the two former Soviet republics to come to an immediate ceasefire.