Why is there an endless war between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Armenia and Azerbaijan are post-Soviet republics in South Caucasus, with a profoundly complicated relationship, which is almost always interpreted as this “conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh,” which has nothing in common with reality.

Let’s briefly talk about Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a de facto independent country in the South Caucasus, historically part of Armenia, forcibly attached to Azerbaijan by Joseph Stalin’s one-night decision, and which was never part of independent Azerbaijan. Even more, Artsakh and Azerbaijan became independent according to the same domestic Soviet Law, so the legal bases of the independence of these two republics are equivalent. In 1994, Artsakh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan signed a ceasefire agreement, proving that Artsakh is considered a distinct legal entity.

After the forty-four-day war in 2020, Azerbaijan took control of almost 70% of Artsakh territory, more than Azerbaijan kept claiming since 1994. Nevertheless, you might probably ask, why, after that, is there no peace or even a working ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

The answer is more than simple, Azerbaijan wants not only the entire Artsakh but also Armenia and never tried to hide it; the President of Azerbaijan went so far as he claims Armenia’s capital Yerevan, Syunik, and Gegharkunik provinces of Armenia, as “historical lands” of Azerbaijan. To understand how groundless these claims are, it is enough to mention that the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, was founded in 782 BCE. Furthermore, Azerbaijan only appeared on the political map in 1918 as the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920), which was never formally recognized by the international community or the League of Nations.

Azerbaijan made it clear that it has territorial claims over Armenia. Since 2021, it has started to prove it by openly violating Armenia’s sovereign territory almost every month and occupying more than 41 sq. km of Armenia.

However, this never gets enough covering; even when Azerbaijani soldiers were executing unarmed Armenian POWs on cameras and posting it on social media, the international community tended to turn a blind eye to it. Why? Because it was presented that “Armenia is a Russian strategic ally, and supporting Azerbaijan means countering Russia.” However, the picture seems to be different, as relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are way better than those between Armenia and Russia. Let me prove it with facts.

The economic relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are on the rise: Russia remains one of its leading economic partners in Azerbaijan. In 2021, trade turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan was 14%; in 2022, in just seven months additional 7% was added to that very turnover. Russian investment in Azerbaijan reached 4.5 milliard US dollar, which the President of Russia announced himself during the meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who added that, indeed, the relationship between Russia and Azerbaijan are developing dynamically. On February 22, 2022., just a few hours before the Russian-Ukrainian war, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a joint declaration on bilateral “allied cooperation,” which says that “to ensure security, maintain peace and stability, Russia and Azerbaijan may consider providing each other with military assistance.” One more thing you definitely need to know is that 25.5 percent of the gas resources of Azerbaijan TANAP Shah Deniz-2 field, which aimed to help the EU reduce its dependence on Russia for natural gas, belongs to the Russian Lukoil company.

So, Armenia is all alone against Azerbaijan, which Turkey fully backs, whose politicians are openly threatening Armenia with a new Genocide. Suppose you still wonder why Azerbaijan continues the endless war against Armenia, which caused the death of thousands of Armenians and Azerbaijanis. In that case, you need to know that Azerbaijan is a totalitarian country ruled by a few families, and the most powerful among them is the Aliyev family. The president of Azerbaijan inherited the Presidency from his father, Heydar Aliyev. In 2003, the current president of Azerbaijan announced that he “won” 76.84 percent of votes in the election before voting had even started. Due to changes in the Azerbaijani constitution, in 2017, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev appointed his wife as the first vice president and currently preparing Presidency for his son: Heydar Aliyev Junior. The current regime in Baku needs to distract attention from the fact that the country is turned into a family business, which keeps getting rich, in contrast with the population living in poverty with a grooving unemployment rank. Moreover, the Azerbaijani Government promotes Anti-Armenian sentiment, also known as Armenophobia, making the people believe that Armenia, is the reason for all their problems. From Azerbaijani war crimes against unarmed Armenian POWs, you can conclude that Azerbaijani Government succeeded: Azerbaijani citizens firmly believe that if Armenia and Armenians disappear, they will finally live healthy and wealthy, which has nothing in common with reality.

Anzhela Mnatsakanyan
Anzhela Mnatsakanyan
Dr. Anzhela Mnatsakanyan, Ph.D. in Political Science Anzhela Mnatsakanyan is a political researcher focusing on Eastern Partnerships, Russia, and the EU. She holds an Advanced Master's Degree of Arts in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe, and a Master's Degree in International Relations from Yerevan State University. She is an alumna of the SUSEES: Summer School in European Education Studies and the Energy Community Summer School.