Armenia has illegally occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh territory of Azerbaijan since 1988. This gross violation of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty has been condemned by the United Nations, who recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as officially falling within Azerbaijan’s borders. Furthermore, it condemns Armenia’s occupation of seven districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, which account for 20% of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. Small clashes along the line of contact are common. In the last few years, however, Armenia has escalated its attacks against Azerbaijan resulting in much more violence that previously existed.
On July 31, 2014, Armenian forces attempted to covertly infiltrate Azerbaijani camps during the middle of the night. Azeris forces detected the infiltration, and bloody fighting ensued in the Agdam and Terter districts along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh. Varying reports indicate that anywhere from 8 to 14 Azerbaijani soldiers died as a direct result of Armenia’s hostilities, while only 2 Armenian soldiers were killed.
Small attacks and violent outbursts such as this most recent one are common in Nagorno-Karabakh despite a cease-fire agreement being in place since 1994. Mediation efforts are continuously unsuccessful, yet third party officials, such as U.S. Ambassador James Warlick, co-chair of the OSCE MINSK group responsible for negotiation a peaceful solution, maintain the importance of the agreement stating, “the ceasefire needs to be respected”.
Despite these pleas, indifference towards the agreement continues. Azerbaijani officials have done their best to cooperate with third party negotiators and Armenia in order to obtain lasting peace. For example, on July 10th of this year, when Armenian aggressors kidnapped innocent Azerbaijani citizens in occupied territory, Azerbaijan, rather than retaliate militarily, sought the aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross. There is only so much violence, however, that one nation can endure. We desperately hope for peace in Azerbaijan and justice to be served to the violent Armenian antagonists who continually deliver bloodshed and suffering to Azerbaijan’s borders.