Written by: Dr. Islam Ayadi – Professor of International Relations – Arab American University

  • Arab Democratic Center

The conflict on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia was not a surprise to those who know the history of the conflict between them. Some people may think that the war raging at the present time between Azerbaijan and Armenia is a new war or that it is only a few years old, but they will definitely be surprised when knowing that this war is more than its age. 100 years old. And what is now the status quo, and during the ceasefire phase and the “peace process” that followed it. In 1992 Armenia, which was more prepared in the first stage of the war (supported by the trained cadre of the Asala terrorist organization, in addition to the very large military, economic and diplomatic support to it) occupied about 20 percent of the Azerbaijani lands.

The UN Security Council and other international organizations adopted resolutions condemning the occupation and demanding its immediate and unconditional end. However, Armenia did not comply with the resolutions nor the ceasefire agreement signed in May 1994. Armenia believed that it would keep Azerbaijan under pressure with the possibility of a large-scale invasion and launch. New attacks on it and that it could prevent Azerbaijan’s attempts to save its territory with military support from Russia.

Hostilities erupted between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces again due to the dispute over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region in the southern Caucasus. The fighting appears to have erupted after the Azerbaijani forces attempted to regain control of areas previously occupied by Armenian forces in the Karabakh war in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis from their homes in these areas between 1992 and 1994.

The Nagorno-Karabakh region is considered a separatist region in which the majority of Armenians live that rejects the authority of Azerbaijan, and the region is located within the Azerbaijani lands and its capital is Khankendi, and since it has not received any international recognition of its independence, it currently belongs to Azerbaijan and about 150 thousand people live in it, about 95% of them are Armenians, and the rest are Azeris. The region is poor in its resources, as it depends only on agriculture and livestock, in addition to the manufacture of some food products.

At the end of 1991, this region declared its independence from Azerbaijan without being recognized by any state, not even Armenia. During the period from 1988 to 1994, the Nagorno-Karabakh region witnessed a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which left about 30 thousand people dead and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom were Azeris. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is located between Iran, Russia and Turkey and is still subordinate to Azerbaijan in the international community’s view.

Turkish interests with Azerbaijan

The relationship between the two countries dates back to the year 1991 when Turkey was the first country to recognize Azerbaijan. Before that, Turkey sided with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in 1986, then followed by a series of understandings and agreements that were signed between the two countries in many fields. Erdogan pledged to support Azerbaijan “until the end” in its war with Armenia over the Nagorno Karabakh region, after the clashes that broke out between the two sides in 2017. Erdogan said in a statement at the time, “We pray for the victories of our Azerbaijani brothers in these battles with the least possible losses.”

First : Azerbaijan for Turkey is the brother and friend country where the Azeris see Turkey as the motherland, the incubator and the older brother, and the Turks see them as their brothers in blood and sweat. The Azeris belong to the Turkish nationalism, Azerbaijan is a country with a majority of Turkish ethnicity, neighbors with Turkey in the northeast, and an important member of the Turkish Council (Turkish-speaking countries), which was established in 2009 and has a membership of 7 countries. The Azerbaijani language is one of the closest languages ​​to the Turkish language, as Azeri is a Turkish language from the Aguz branch, very close to Turkish today, but influenced by Arabic, Persian and Russian, and there are currently between 13 and 30 million speakers of the Azerbaijani language.

Second : Turkey relies on the other hand, in its relationship with Azerbaijan, on its hopes for the energy sector and access to cheap gas, whose importation burdens the Turkish budget. Turkey is linked with Azerbaijan to the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project, which costs $ 8.5 billion and is linked to the South Caucasus Pipeline, which pumps gas from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz 2 field in the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey.
The project as a whole is called the Southern Gas Corridor and has a total cost of $ 40 billion.
The Southern Gas Corridor aims to transport gas for a distance of 3,500 km from the Caspian Sea to Europe through three connected pipelines, while the West seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Third : As for the investments of Turkish businessmen in Azerbaijan, they amounted to more than 10 billion dollars. The Azerbaijani president said in press statements that the friendship and brotherhood relations between the two countries will witness an escalating growth during the coming period, and Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, in addition to their Georgian counterpart, had launched a strategic project. Rail transport, with a length of 826 km, connects the three countries, thus establishing a route for transporting goods and travelers between Europe and Asia bypassing Russia. The line, which includes a new route of 105 kilometers, will be able to carry one million passengers and five million tons of cargo. The three countries are linked to the BP-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline. But trade relations between Turkey and the Caucasus region are limited, and the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line promises to give an economic boost to the region.