Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

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October 07, 2023

Why in news?

The European Union lawmakers has urged the bloc to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan for carrying ethnic cleansing against Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Where is Nagorno-Karabakh located ?

  • Location- Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked, mountainous and forested region falling within the boundaries of Azerbaijan.
  • It is located in the South Caucasus region, which straddles the border between Eastern Europe and western Asia.
    • It is roughly made up of modern-day Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
  • Predominant population-Nagorno-Karabakh, called Artsakh in Armenian, hosts a predominantly ethnic Armenian population (1.2 Lakh) having close cultural, social, and historical ties with Armenia.
  • The conclave is connected to Armenia through the 5-km Lachin Corridor.
  • Religion- The Armenians are Christians, while Azeris are Muslims.
  • Places - The capital of Nagorno-Karabakh is Stepanakert, with Susha being another major city in the region.


What is the conflict about?

  • The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh is called one of the “frozen conflicts” of the world.
  • 1921 - When Czarist Russia gave way to the Soviet Union in 1921, Nagorno-Karabakh was part of the Azerbaijan SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic).
  • 1988 - Nagorno-Karabakh legislature passed a resolution declaring its intention to join Armenia, despite being geographically located within Azerbaijan.
  • 1991- With the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia and Azerbaijan achieved statehood while Nagorno-Karabakh officially declared independence.
  • 1993 - War broke between two countries, Armenia had captured Nagorno-Karabakh region and it additionally occupied 20% of the Azerbaijan’s geographical area.
  • 1994 - Bishkek protocol (a ceasefire) was brokered by Russia making Nagorno-Karabakh de facto independent with a self-proclaimed government in Stepanakert, but still it relied on Armenia.
  • 2020 - Both countries went to war again and Azerbaijan managed to seize control of the territory around Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • 2022- The Lachin Corridor was blockaded by Azerbaijan, causing severe shortages of essential goods including food, fuel and water in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • After an agreement to reopen the Lachin Corridor for aid deliveries sparked hopes of easing the crisis, Azerbaijan launched an anti-terrorist offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh and claimed to have regained full control over the region.
  • 2023 - Almost all of the 1,20,000 ethnic Armenian population has fled the breakaway region since Azerbaijan seized it back in a lightning offensive.

What is India’s stand on the conflict?

  • Diplomacy- Post 2020 conflict, India believes that any lasting resolution of the conflict can only be achieved peacefully through diplomatic negotiations.
  • Peaceful resolution- India supports the OSCE Minsk Group’s continued efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Peaceful resolution


The package deal (1997)

It envisaged simultaneous removal of Armenian forces from occupied areas and the determination of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status but was rejected.

The step-by-step approach (1997)

It suggested gradual steps starting with Armenian withdrawal, return of displaced refugees, and ending of hostilities followed by talks for a future resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue which was rejected too.

The common state proposal (1998)

It would endow Nagorno-Karabakh with a separate passport, law enforcement and currency, but within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognised borders.

  • 2023 conflict- India encouraged the parties to move forward on ensuring long-term peace and security in the region through dialogue and diplomacy.
  • Strategic ties- The geographical location of the countries make the region a viable corridor for connecting with Russia and Europe through Central Asia and Iran.
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which India is keen to develop.
  • The tensions in the region directly impact India’s plans to bypass Pakistan as the gateway to Europe and Russia.

India-Armenia Ties

  • Historical relation - Indian settlements in Armenia were established by two princes (Krishna and Ganesh escaping from Kannauj) in 149 BC.
  • Emperor Akbar, who is believed to have an Armenian wife Mariam Zamani Begum, granted Armenian traders privileges and considerable religious freedom.
  • Today, the Armenian community is mainly settled in Kolkata.
  • Diplomatic relations - With Armenia, India opened its embassy in 1999, has a treaty relationship, and has received as many as 3 Heads of State. There have been 2 visits from India at the level of Vice President.
  • Political relations- Armenia publicly endorses India’s position on the resolution of the Kashmir issue on a bilateral basis and supports India’s aspiration for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council.
  • Defence ties- In 2022, the India signed a deal to supply Armenian with PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank munitions, and ammunitions worth US 250 million dollars.

India Azerbaijan Ties

  • Historical ties-The ‘Ateshgah’ fire temple in the vicinity of Baku is an 18th-century monument that has wall inscriptions in Devanagari and Gurmukhi.
  • Silk route is a surviving proof of the hospitality that Indian merchants to Europe enjoyed in Azerbaijani cities such as Baku and Ganja.
  • Diplomatic relations -After the collapse of the Soviet Union, India recognised the independence of Azerbaijan and established diplomatic relations.
  • However, Azerbaijan’s proximity to Pakistan has been perceived as an irritant in the ties and there has not been a single visit at the level of the Head of State/ Government between the two countries.

What about the global response?

  • Former International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor warned that there was a reasonable basis to believe Azerbaijan was committing a genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh region using starvation as “invisible genocide weapon”.
  • The European Parliament approved a resolution saying it considers that the current situation amounts to ethnic cleansing and strongly condemns threats and violence committed by Azerbaijan troops.
  • The lawmakers called on EU’s 27 member states to adopt targeted sanctions against individuals in the Azerbaijani government over the assault and alleged human right violations in Nagorno-Karabakh.



  1. Indian Express-Nagorno-Karabakh conflict history
  2. The Hindu- EU Parliament decries ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh
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