Karabakh is Azerbaijan
The Karabakh region has historically always been an inalienable part of Azerbaijan. From the ancient times until its acquisition by the Russian empire in the early 19th century, it was part of different Azerbaijani states. According to the Treaty of Kurakchay signed between the Khan of Karabakh Ibrahim Khan and, the representative of the Russian emperor, General Pavel Tsitsianovon 14 May 1805, the Karabakh khanate was brought under Russian rule.
The name Nagorny Karabakh is a Russian translation of its original name in Azerbaijani – Dağlıq Qarabağ, the literal meaning of which is “mountainous Karabakh”. The word Qarabağ/Karabakh constitutes a compound of two Azerbaijani words: “qara” (black or dense) and “bağ” (garden or forest).
Massive resettlement of Armenians in Azerbaijani lands began after the signing of the Gulustan (12 October 1813) and Turkmanchay (10 February 1828) treaties following the Russo-Persian wars. The 1823 official taxation register of the Karabakh province, prepared shortly after the abolishment of the Karabakh Khanate, provided the following figures on the ethnic composition of the Karabakh population:
|Nationality||Number of families|
|Azerbaijanis||15,729 (78.3%)||1,111 (72.5%)||14,618 (78.7%)|
|Armenians||4,366 (21.7%)||421 (27.5%)||3,945 (21.3%)|
|Total||20,095 (100.0%)||1,532 (100.0%)||18,563 (100%)|
According to official data, from 1828 to 1911 more than 1,000,000 Armenians from Persia and Ottoman Turkey were resettled in the territories of present-day Republic of Azerbaijan. 
On 28 May 1918, the independence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed. In April 1919, the Allied Powers recognized the General-Governorship of Karabakh established in January 1919 by the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The General-Governorship included the regions of Shusha, Javanshir, Jabrayil, and Zangazur, with Shusha designated as its administrative centre. That same year, the Armenian National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh officially recognized the authority of Azerbaijan. 
British journalist Scotland-Liddel, writing from Shusha in 1919, observed: “Peace came to Karabakh. The Armenians agreed to obey the Azerbaijani government … The Armenians tell that there has never been such order and peace before in Shusha and Karabakh…Both peoples were ready to continue peacefully their course of life and will continue to do so, if not for the intervention of agitators. I believe that – Armenians are responsible for the Armenian-[Azerbaijani] massacre in other parts of Transcaucasia. 
After the Soviet invasion of the South Caucasus region in 1920, Armenian nationalists resumed their territorial claims against Azerbaijan. In response, on 5 July 1921, considering the economic ties between Upper and Lower Karabakh, the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party decided that Nagorno-Karabakh is to be retained within the boundaries of Azerbaijan and conferred broad autonomy, with Shusha as its administrative centre. Two years later, on 7 July 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) was established and the town of Khankandi (renamed Stepanakert after the Soviet Bolshevik leader Stepan Shaumian in September 1923 and later restored back to Khankandi in November 1991) was designated as its administrative centre.
In contrast, however, about 300,000 Azerbaijanis residing in Armenia were denied cultural autonomy both by the USSR central government and the government of Armenia SSR.
The status of Nagorno-Karabakh as an autonomous oblast within Azerbaijan SSR was stipulated in the Constitutions of the USSR of 1936 and 1977. The legal status of NKAO was defined in the Constitutions of USSR and Azerbaijan SSR as well as the 16 June 1981 “Law on the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”. As an autonomous region, NKAO enjoyed a number of rights, which in practice ensured that the specific needs of its Armenian population were being met. Under the Constitution of the USSR, NKAO was represented by five deputies in the Council of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet Council of the USSR and by 12 deputies in the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR.
The Armenian language was used in all local executive and judicial branches, as well as in education, local TV, radio broadcasts and in newspapers and magazines reflecting the broad language rights of the region’s Armenian population.
In the period between 1971 and 1985, capital investments of 483 million roubles -2.8 times more than in the previous 15-year period- were poured into the development of the NKAO. Between 1981 and 1985, the volume of per capita investment had increased nearly fourfold in comparison to the previous 20 years (226 roubles in 1981-1985 compared to 59 roubles in 1961-1965). Housing construction in NKAO had amounted to 4.76 square meters per capita, whereas the overall Azerbaijani average in the previous 15 years amounted to 3.64 square meters per capita. Moreover, the number of hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants was 15% higher in NKAO than in the rest of Azerbaijan.
NKAO also ranked relatively high among all of the Azerbaijan SSR regions in terms of pre-school facilities. In the period between 1971 and 1985, the number of pre-schools per 10,000 inhabitants was 1.4 times higher than the overall Republic average. Similarly, the number of secondary schools per 10,000 inhabitants was 1.6 times higher in NKAO than the Republic average.
The availability and quality of housing, goods and services in the oblast were superior to those in the rest of Azerbaijan and reflected the social and cultural development of the region. Per capita living space in apartment buildings in NKAO was almost one-third greater than the average for Azerbaijan, while rural dwellers had 1.5 times more living space than peasants in the Republic as a whole. Moreover, the population of the oblast had greater access to healthcare and to cultural venues and libraries which housed 1.6 times more books and magazines than libraries in other parts of Azerbaijan.
As far as basic social development was concerned, NKAO exceeded the indicators for the average republic-wide standard of living in Azerbaijan. There was significant progress in the development of cultural establishments, both in the oblast and throughout Azerbaijan SSR.
In the 1988-1989 school year, there were 136 secondary education schools in Nagorno-Karabakh using Armenian as the primary language (16,120 students). The State Pedagogical Institute in Stepanakert had more than 2,130 students studying in the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian programs. In addition, Nagorno-Karabakh had dozens of specialized secondary schools and vocational training institutes offering instruction in Armenian.
Five news periodicals were printed in the Armenian language and unlike other administrative-territorial units of Azerbaijan located in mountainous areas far from the capital, NKAO was equipped with the technical infrastructure necessary for receiving television and radio programs.
Thus, NKAO’s autonomy within Azerbaijan reflected the economic, social, and cultural lifestyle of the local population.
As a result of the exceptional conditions created by Azerbaijan, NKAO transformed into a developed agro-industrial region. The standard of living in NKAO was improving at a faster rate than the standard of living in Armenia and other regions of Azerbaijan. In the 1980s, it was these factors that heightened ethnic arrogance and separatist tendencies among Karabakh Armenians, who settled in Azerbaijan’s Upper Karabakh region only in the XIX-XX centuries and subsequently constituted a majority of the region’s population.
|In 1978 a memorial dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the resettlement of Armenians to the Karabakh region was erected in the town of Maraga of the former NKAO, depicting the real history of Armenians in Karabakh. In order to remove all traces associated with Armenian resettlement, Armenians destroyed this monument in 1988, but this photo of the memorial still remains.|
 See, e.g., I. Shopen, Historical monument of the status of the Armenian oblast in the period of its annexation to the Russian Empire (Saint-Petersburg: Publishing House of the Emperor’s Academy of Sciences, 1852), pp. 636, 639-641, 706; N. Shavrov, A new challenge to the Russian issue in Transcaucasia: Upcoming sale of Mughan to foreigners (Saint-Petersburg: Publishing House of the Editorial Board of the Ministry of Finance Periodicals, 1911), pp. 59-60.
 See, e.g., History of the Armenian people (Yerevan: Yerevan University Press, 1980), p. 268; Compilation of statistical data of the Caucasus (Tiflis, 1869), volume I, chapter I, part III; Caucasian calendar for 1917 (Tiflis: Press Office of the Governor-General E.I.B of the Caucasus, 1916), pp. 183, 219-221; Acts of the Archeological Commission of the Caucasus (Tiflis, 1870), volume IV, doc. 37, p. 37.
 Provisional agreement between the Government of Azerbaijan and the Armenians of Nagorny Karabakh, 26 August 1919 года. For text, see To the History of Formation of the Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan SSR. 1918-1925: Documents and Materials (Baku: Azerneshr, 1989), pp. 23-25. See also Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pp. 75-76.
 State Archive of the Republic of Azerbaijan, f. 894, inv. 10, f. 103, p. 18.
The procedures for changing the existing borders of Soviet republics were stipulated in the constitutions of the USSR and in the Constitutions of Soviet republics. According to article 78 of the USSR Constitution, the territory of a Soviet republic could not be altered without its consent. The borders between union republics could only be redrawn by mutual agreement of the Republics concerned, subject to approval by the higher legislative bodies of the USSR. This provision was also stipulated in the Constitutions of the Azerbaijan SSR and Armenia SSR.
Accordingly, the 20 February 1988 appeal to cede the then Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) from Azerbaijan to Armenia was rejected by both the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan SSR and the Supreme Council of the USSR in their respective decisions of 17 June and 18 July of 1988.
Certainly, Armenia SSR was adamant in trying to legitimize the annexation of NKAO through other illegal means. Its highest legislative body adopted several decisions in direct violation of the USSR Constitution and other key normative legal acts. Among them was the decision on the reunification of NKAO and Armenia SSR, adopted on 1 December 1989 by the Supreme Council of Armenia SSR.
Following these and other decisions of the Armenian parliament seeking to legitimize the outright annexation of the territory of another Union Republic, Armenia launched armed aggression against Azerbaijan in the 1990s.
In order to justify its occupation, Armenia has referred to the 3 April 1990 USSR law “On the Procedures for Resolving Questions Related to the Secession of Soviet republics from the USSR”. The objective of this law, however, was to establish a specific procedure to be followed by Soviet republics in the event of their secession from the USSR, a complicated and multi-staged procedure, involving a referendum subject to authorization by the Supreme Soviet Council of the republic and a vote by the Congress of the USSR People’s Deputies. Moreover, this law had no legal validity during the course of the Soviet Union’s existence, since no Soviet republic, not even Azerbaijan and Armenia, ever applied for secession.
After the collapse of the USSR in December 1991 and the international legitimacy of the boundaries of newly independent States was secured by the international legal doctrine of uti possidetis juris. With it, the former administrative borders of Azerbaijan SSR, which included NKAO, were recognized by international law as the legitimate borders of the newly independent Republic of Azerbaijan. It was later reaffirmed in the UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884 in regards to “the conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
Without any valid legal grounds for the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia resorted to using the principle of the right to self-determination. However, the principle of self-determination cannot be interpreted to include a right of secession. Secession from an independent Azerbaijan on the grounds of self-determination violates the universally accepted norms of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states as well as other relevant international legal principles, primarily the non-use of force.
Conflict settlement process
The present stage of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began in the late 1980s, with Armenia’s territorial claims against the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan leading to a military escalation and massive expulsion of the Azerbaijani population from Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
On 22 February 1988 Armenians opened fire on local Azerbaijanis of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and as a result, two Azerbaijani youths became the first victims of the conflict.
More than 200 Azerbaijani civilians were killed and over 1000 were wounded during the mass deportations of Azerbaijanis forced to leave Armenia.
Taking advantage of the political instability and internal struggles that Azerbaijan was facing after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia, with external military assistance, initiated large-scale combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh in late 1991 and early 1992.
By May of 1992, the city of Shusha and the region of Lachyn, situated between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, had been occupied. In 1993, Armenian armed forces captured six more regions of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh: Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadly and Zangilan.
As a result of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, one fifth of Azerbaijani territory is under occupation, about one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDP’s, more than 20,000 were killed, 50,000 were wounded or disabled and more than 4000 Azerbaijani citizens went missing.
On February 28, 1992, during the 7th meeting of the CSCE Committee of Senior Officials in Prague, the parties were called on to establish a cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan without delay, respect inviolability of internal, as well as external borders, which can only be changed by peaceful means and with common consent, and refuse from all territorial claims, including abstension from all the hostile propaganda.
On March 24, 1992, during the first additional meeting of the CSCE Council of Foreign Ministers in Helsinki, a decision was adopted to convene a conference on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to provide an ongoing forum for negotiations on the basis of the principles, commitments and provisions of the CSCE.
On April 30, July 29, October 14 and November 12 of 1993, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884, respectively. These resolutions reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the international borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan and demanded the immediate cessation of all hostile acts and the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all occupied regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and called for ensuring the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
On May 12 1994, the ceasefire was established. According to the decision taken at the CSCE Budapest Summit (5-6 December 1994), Heads of States and Governments of the CSCE participating States set up the institution of the Co-Chairmanship of the Minsk Conference for the coordination of all mediation efforts within the CSCE framework. The Budapest Summit tasked the CSCE Chairman-in-Office to conduct negotiations aimed at the conclusion of political agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict, the implementation of which will remove the consequences of the conflict and will allow for the convening of the Minsk Conference.
The Summit also adopted a decision on the deployment of CSCE multinational peacekeeping forces after the achievement of the agreement between the Parties on the cessation of the armed conflict, and the establishment of the High Level Planning Group (HLPG) located in Vienna and aimed at the preparation of the peacekeeping operation. It superseded an earlier Initial Operation Planning Group (IOPG), which was established in May 1993.
On March 23 1995, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office issued a mandate for the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Process (DOC. 525/95).
On December 2-3 1996, at the OSCE Lisbon Summit, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office recommended principles which should be the basis for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Out of 54 OSCE participating States, Armenia was the only one that did not support these principles.
The principles laid out by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in his statement are as follows:
– Territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Republic;
– Legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh defined in an agreement based on self-determination which confers on Nagorno-Karabakh the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan;
– Guaranteed security for Nagorno-Karabakh and its whole population, including mutual obligations to ensure compliance by all the Parties with the provisions of the settlement.
On January 1, 1997, the institution of the triple Co-Chairmanship of Russia, France and the USA, was established (the Chairmen countries of the Minsk Conference were Italy in 1992-1993, Sweden in 1994-1995 and Russia and Finland in 1995-1996).
On June 1 1997, the Co-Chairmen presented a draft of a comprehensive agreement on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite the readiness of Azerbaijan to start constructive consultations on the basis of these documents, the Armenian side rejected this approach.
In September 1997, the Co-Chairmen presented new proposals based on a “stage-by-stage” approach to the settlement. At the first stage, this approach constituted the liberation of the occupied districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, the deployment of OSCE peacekeeping operations, the return of displaced persons to the liberated territories and the restoration of essential forms of communication in the conflict zone. The second stage would focus on the Lachyn corridor, the city of Shusha and on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Subsequently, the OSCE Minsk Conference would then be convened.
On October 10 1997, in a joint statement in Strasbourg, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia stated that “the recent proposals of the Co-Chairmen were a hopeful basis for the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group”. However, after the resignation of the then Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrossian in February 1998 and the start of Robert Kocharian’s presidency in March 1998, the following visit of the Co-Chairmen to the region was met with Armenia officially withdrawing its support for the “stage-by-stage” approach to settling the conflict.
On November 9 1998, the Co-Chairmen put forward proposals based on the concept of a “common State”. According to this concept, Nagorno-Karabakh would have the status of a State and a territorial unit in the form of a republic, which, together with Azerbaijan would constitute the common State within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan rejected those proposals since they violated its sovereignty and contradicted the Lisbon principles.
During 1999-2001, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia met more than 20 times but these meetings did not yield any results.
In March 2002, during their visit to the region, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen proposed to conduct negotiations at the level of special representatives of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The proposal was accepted by the heads of both states.
On March 13-15 and July 29-30 2002, the special representatives of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held two meetings near the city of Prague.
In 2004, direct talks between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan started within the so-called “Prague Process”.
On January 25 2005 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolution 1416 titled “The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference”. The Parliamentary Assembly affirmed the occupation of a considerable part of the territory of Azerbaijan and expressed its concern for the fact that military action, and ethnic hostilities which preceded it, led to large-scale ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which resemble ethnic cleansing. The Assembly made it clear that the occupation of foreign territory by a member State constitutes a grave violation of that State’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and reaffirmed the right of displaced persons from the area of conflict to return to their homes safely and in dignity. The Assembly also recalled the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and urged the parties concerned to comply with them, in particular by withdrawing military forces from all occupied territories.
In May 2006, a joint mission of Representatives, consisting of Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair countries travelled to the region.
On June 22 2006, the Co-Chairmen in submitted a report to the OSCE permanent council, recommending that negotiations be continued not on the basis of solving all aspects of the conflict at once but on instead achieving progress on matters that were easier to agree on and on leaving difficult issues for further negotiations.
In response to the statement of the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan noted that defining the legal status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan would be impossible under continued occupation and ethnic cleansing. The legal status, Azerbaijan stated, can only be discussed after liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, demilitarization of the whole conflict zone, provision of appropriate international security guarantees therein and the return of the forcibly displaced Azerbaijani population. The Azerbaijani side once again reaffirmed readiness to grant its Nagorno-Karabakh region the highest status of self-rule within the internationally recognized borders, and pursuant to the Constitution of Azerbaijan.
On July 13 2007, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement in which they provided an assessment of the then current stage of the settlement process for the conflict in light of the meeting that took place between the presidents Ilham Aliyev and Robert Kocharian in St. Petersburg on June 9 2007. The Co-Chairmen stated that during the meeting, the Presidents concentrated on a few obstacles in reaching agreement on the set of “basic principles” and in turn were not able to come to an agreement. In their statement, the Co-Chairmen welcomed and commended an initiative to organize a joint visit of a group of intellectuals from Azerbaijan and Armenia to Yerevan, Baku and the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as the first concrete confidence-building measure.
On November 2 2008, the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation signed the Moscow Declaration. The Declaration states that the settlement of the conflict should be based on the norms and principles of international law and the decisions and documents approved within this framework, which includes among others the UN Security Council Resolutions of 1993 as well as the UN General Assembly Resolutions of 2006 and 2008. It also declares that the settlement of the conflict based on the norms and principles of international law will create favorable conditions for economic growth and all-round cooperation in the region.
In 2009, negotiations on the settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict intensified. Six meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and three meetings at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs were held with the participation of the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group.
On December 1-2 2009, in the framework of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council held in Athens, representatives from the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries – Foreign Ministers of Russia and France and the US Deputy Secretary of State made a joint statement and the OSCE Ministerial Council adopted a Statement on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These statements referred to the basic principles outlined in the Moscow Declaration and the Helsinki Final Act as important elements of the conflict settlement process.
In 2010, the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on international norms and principles within the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan continued. These negotiations were based on the updated Madrid principles presented by the Minsk Group co-chairmen in December 2009.
In 2010 three meetings were held between the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President of the Republic of Armenia – on 25 June in Sochi and 17 June in Saint Petersburg and on 27 October in Astrakhan, with mediation of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. As a result of final talks the two sides adopted a joint statement with the mediation of OSCE Minsk Group and the International Red Cross Society on returning deceased hostages and prisoners of war, as well as civilians killed as a result of ceafire violations. The talks resulted in the returning the corpses of Mubariz Ibrahimov, National Hero of Azerbaijan and the martyr Farid Ahmadov and burying them in their home country.
In 2010, five meetings were held between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan: on July 17 in Almaty, on November 6 in Moscow, on November 19 in Lisbon, on November 22 and December 22 in Moscow).
On June 26, 2010, a joint statement by the heads of OSCE Minsk group Co-chair states in Muskoka, Canada became one of the most significant steps taken in the way to agreeing on regulating the principles on which to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Heads of State mentioned the importance of a step-by-step resolution model which consists among others, of liberating the occupied territories, returning refugees and IDPs to their home lands.
On October 7-12 2010, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs conducted a Field Assessment Mission (FAM) to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan surrounding its Nagorno-Karabakh regions to assess the overall situation there. This was done at the request of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which was concerned about continued illegal activities, including illegal settlement practices, exploitation of resources that are being carried out in its occupied territories. The FAM revealed once again the continued policy of illegal settlement of ethnic Armenians in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as well as infrastructure changes and economic activities conducted in these territories. The report of the FAM states that the status quo in the occupied territories is unacceptable and that all illegal practices in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan must be put to an end.
On December 1-2, 2010 the Astana Commemorative Declaration adopted at the 7-th Summit of the OSCE in Astana, Kazakhstan called for the resolution of protracted within agreed formats, fully respecting the norms and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, as well as the Helsinki Final Act. Moreover, a joint statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries and the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia reaffirmed the importance of resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of principles as adopted by the Heads of State of Minsk Group Co-Chair countries in L’Aquila in 2009 and in Muskoka in 2010.
In 2011, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held two meetings at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation, D.Medvedev, namely on March 5 in Sochi and on June 24 in Kazan. The meetings yielded no results as the non-constructive position of Armenia compelled it to maintain the current status quo and to impose a fait accompli situation. Furthermore, on September 29, President Ilham Aliyev had a meeting in Warsaw with OSCE Minsk group Co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Secretary-General.
On January 23, 2012, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held a meeting in Sochi at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation, D.Medvedev. A joint statement supported OSCE Minsk group co-chairs’ activity till the peaceful resolution of the conflict and stability is achieved in the region. The joint statement stressed the importance of starting the work over the Final Peace Agreement and to this end, highlighted the readiness of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia to speed up the agreement over the basic principles.
On July 14, 2012, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan held a meeting with the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. At the meeting, they discussed Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Minister stressed that the peace process can only progress after the withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
On September 27, 2012, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan met with the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group during his participation in the 67th session of the UN General Assembly. At the meeting, it was discussed that armed forces of the Republic of Armenia had not been withdrawn from the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan and there was standstill in the negotiation process as a result of the attempts of Armenia to extend the status quo. The Minister, E.Mammadyarov stated that Armenia resort to all excuses to preserve the status quo. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group reaffirming the statements made by the Presidents of their respective countries stressed that the current status quo is unacceptable. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan once again brought to the Co-Chairs’ notice the fact that the peace, security and stability in the region will be in peril as long as the armed forces of Armenia stay in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
On October 27, 2012, a meeting was held in Paris between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The meeting was attended by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. At the meeting, they expressed their concern over the situation with regard to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Besides, discussions were held regarding the necessity to change the current status quo and ways out of the deadlock in the conflict settlement process.
On March 4, 2013, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan held a meeting with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. During the meeting, the Co-Chairs once again emphasized the unacceptability of the status quo in the region. Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov assessing a non-constructive stance of Armenia as an impediment for the settlement of the conflict highlighted once again the necessity of the withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan to advance the peace process and establish peace and stability in all over the region.
On May 17, 2013, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group held a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Krakow, Poland. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office also attended the meeting. Possible ways, to move the negotiation process forward, were discussed at the meeting. The Co-Chairs reiterated the indispensability to refrain from calls and steps that could spoil the peace process and aggravate the tension, as well as discussed with the Foreign Ministers possible measures to establish a favourable condition for peace.
On 19 November, 2013, the President of Azerbaijan met his Armenian counterpart, in Vienna. The Personal Representatives of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office also attended the meeting along with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries. The Presidents discussed a wide range of issues related to the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a one-on-one meeting and later on during the consultations attended by the co-chairs and ministers. The Presidents consented to boost future talks aimed at achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict, as well as instructed the foreign ministers to proceed the process on the basis of what was previously carried out together with the Co-Chairs to intensify the peace process and agreed to continue the negotiations.
On December 4, 2013, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on the sidelines of the 21st meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council. During the meeting, the discussions were held over the negotiation process on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as over the plans and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in this direction in the years to come. Minister Elmar Mammadyarov once again pointed out Azerbaijan’s position on the settlement of the conflict stressing that the Armenian armed forces must be withdrawn from the occupied Azerbaijani territories for the peaceful settlement of the conflict.
In 2014, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held three meetings. The first meeting took place with the mediation of President of the Russian Federation in Sochi on August 10, the second one via the mediation of the US State Secretary in Newport, Wales on September 4, and the third meeting was held with the mediation of the President of France in Paris on October 27.
Instead of discussing the concrete issues tabled after the Paris meeting of the Presidents Armenia carried out a large-scale military training in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan with the participation of more than 40,000 personnel. The brinkmanship carried out by Armenian air forces against positions of armed forces of Azerbaijan on the line of contact resulted in the shoot-down of one of the helicopters of Armenia.
On July 22, 2014, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Brussels while participating in the 5th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the countries included in the Eastern Partnership Program of the European Union. At the meeting, they discussed ways to speed up the settlement process.
On January 23, 2015, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the French Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. The sides discussed the negotiation process on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as the OSCE Minsk Group’s action plan and regional security.
On January 27, 2015, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in Krakow.
Elmar Mammadyarov pointed out that the extension of the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the main obstacle to the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the region, and highlighted the importance of the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan which is the main issue for the settlement of the conflict. The Foreign Minister asserted that the OSCE Minsk Group should accelerate its activity in the conflict settlement process taking into account the non-constructive position of the Armenian political leadership in the negotiation process.
On February 16, 2015, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Azerbaijan. They exchanged their views over the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Speaking of the ceasefire violations, the Minister emphasized the importance of the co-chairs’ demand vis-à-vis the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories in compliance with the international law and the four UN Security Council resolutions.
On June 1, 2015, Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia Ivica Dačić. During the meeting, the minister said that the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be resolved on the basis of the norms and principles of international law, especially respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, and the four UN Security Council resolutions.
On September 25, 2015, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister met with the Armenian Foreign Minister in the presence of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly. Minister Mammadyarov once again emphasized Azerbaijan’s aforementioned position on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On March 17, 2016, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov received a delegation headed by Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Southern Caucasus. Speaking about the ongoing negotiations over the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, Elmar Mammadyarov stressed that Armenia’s main objective is to undermine the negotiation process with various provocative actions and maintain the existing status quo which is based on occupation and aggression to eventually annex Azerbaijani territories. He also noted that by moving technical issues such as the investigation of incidents into the agenda, Armenia attempts to divert attention from the resolution of the conflict.
The Minister noted that, first of all, based on the UN Security Council resolutions Armenian troops should be withdrawn from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijani for the resolution of the conflict, as well as occupation and aggression must be abandoned, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders should be restored.
On September 22, 2016, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs on the sidelines of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. Discussions were held over the acceleration of the peace process and the achievement of substantial results in the negotiations. Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said that Armenia aims to torpedo the negotiation process with its recent provocative actions and by carrying out military exercises in the occupied Aghdam region of Azerbaijan.
On June 19, 2017, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. At the meeting, it was emphasized that substantive negotiations are necessary to change the currently unacceptable and unsustainable status-quo. The Minister drew attention to provocations conducted by Armenia on the contact line, and noted that through these provocations and deliberate escalation, Armenia undermined the conflict resolution process. Elmar Mammadyarov touched upon the illegal actions such as plundering and destruction of material and cultural monuments, as well as organization of illegal flights and other economic activities carried out by Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. He added that such illegal activities of Armenia in the occupied territories severly thwart the negotiation process over the conflict settlement.
On September 23, 2017, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with OSCE Secretary General on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
Minister Elmar Mammadyarov briefed him on the latest status of the negotiation process and the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Stating that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs and all international community have accepted the fact that the existing status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable, the Minister stressed that Armenian armed forces must be withdrawn from all occupied Azerbaijani territories to achieve progress in resolving the conflict. The Minister underlined that attempts to alter the internationally recognized borders of states by use of force is unacceptable. Furthermore, the Minister reiterated that the conflict must be resolved based on the sovereighnty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of the states in accordance with the norms and principles of international law, as well as four UN Security Council resolutions.
The Foreign Minister also held a meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the sidelines of the aforementioned session. Discussions were held over the issues on the agenda and the negotiation process on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On September 25, 2017, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian within the framework of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly together with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. They had a broad exchange of views over the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as reviewed the steps to be taken by Armenia, Azerbaijan and the co-chairs.
On July 11, 2018, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia met in Brussels through the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. During the meeting, the negotiation process on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was extensively discussed and the continuation of the existing negotiation format noted. They also exchanged views on the next steps to advance the negotiation process and the action plans of the co-chairs.
On September 28, 2018, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had a conversation on the sidelines of the CIS Summit in Dushanbe.They affirmed their commitment to the negotiation process regarding the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the strengthening of the ceasefire regime by preventing incidents on the line of contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
On December 5, 2018, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs and the acting Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Milan. Very important and useful talks were held enabling the parties to better understand each other’s position and agree to continue the work to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through fair and sustainable peace.
On January 16, 2019 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs and the acting Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Paris. The meeting resulted in a joint statement agreeing to prepare the populations of both sides for peace, security and sustainable development.
On January 22, 2019, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held an informal meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The parties discussed the current state of negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On March 29, 2019, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a meeting in Vienna to discuss the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The meeting was first held one-on-one, then later with the partcipation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs.
On April 15, 2019, at the initiative of the Russian side, a working meeting was held in Moscow between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the participation of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The meeting was also attended by OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. The Ministers dicussed the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, specifically in regards to continuing the negotiation process, reducing tensions in the conflict zone, as well as possible cooperation in the humanitarian field and taking steps to establish people-to-people contacts and reciprocal visits by media representatives.
On June 20, 2019, a meeting was held in Washington between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The meeting was also attended by OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. The Ministers dicussed the implementation of agreements reached during their previous meetings in Paris and Moscow.
On September 23, 2019, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia met with the participation of Minsk Group Co-chairs in New York to exchange views on the need for OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to expand their efforts in bringing peace to the region and to supporting respect for international norms and principles.
On December 5, 2019, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia held a meeting on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Bratislava with the mediation of Minsk Group Co-chairs. In the meeting which lasted for over 3.5 hours, the sides discussed the current situation of the conflict as well possible ways for future peaceful settlement. The Ministers agreed to continue negotiations and to hold a subsequent meeting in early 2020.
On 28-30 January, 2020, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia met with the participation of Minsk Group Co-chairs in Geneva. The meeting marked the most intensive discussions held between the sides over the last years. The sides held thorough discussions over the agenda items presented by the Co-Chairs. This included firstly, issues relating to the implementation of agreements and proposals discussed in 2019, particularly the humanitarian exchanges for preparation of the populations of both countries for peace; second, the basic principles and elements of the settlement process, in particular, the resolution of the conflict based on the provisions and principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and lastly, ways of further intensification of the settlement process.
On 21 April 2020 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia met via video-conference with the participation of Minsk Group Co-chairs. During the meeting, the sides discussed the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the region and recent developments on the ground. The sides discussed next steps in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process in line with the joint statement adopted in Geneva on 30 January, 2020. Due to extraordinary circumstances arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, the implementation of previously agreed humanitarian measures, as well as face-to face Ministerial meetings and the visits of the Co-Chairs to the region were declared postponed. The Co-Chairs underlined the importance of observing the ceasefire strictly and refraining from provocative actions in the current environment.
On May 18, 2020 Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov held an online meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. At the meeting, the sides discussed the current situation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process and the steps to be taken during the upcoming months, in the post-pandemic period.
On June 30, 2020 Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia took part in an online meeting with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. During the meeting, the sides discussed the current situation of the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Minister Elmar Mammadyarov raised the issue of the illegal activities by Armenia, including the infrastructural changes in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The Co-chairs noted the increase of aggressive rhetoric. Minister Elmar Mammadyarov highlighted that provocative actions by Armenia lead to an escalation of rhetoric.
On October 8, 2020 Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov held a meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Geneva and informed the Co-Chairs about the position of Azerbaijan regarding settlement of the conflict.
On October 9-10, 2020 after a trilateral meeting in Moscow, the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Russian Federation issued a joint statement, agreeing to a ceasefire to take effect on October 10, 2020 for humanitarian purposes, in order to exchange prisoners of war, other detainees and corpses.
On October 17, 2020, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia agreed to a humanitarian truce as of October 18th. The decision was taken following the statement of the Presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the Co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group of 1 October 2020, the Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group of 5 October, and in line with Moscow Statement of October 10, 2020.
On October 23, 2020, as part of his visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov held a meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs. During the meeting, Minister Jeyhun Bayramov noted that the Armenian side twice violated the humanitarian ceasefire, continuously and purposefully fired on the Azerbaijani civilian population and fired rockets at cities and settlements outside the conflict zone. The Minister brought to the attention of the Co-chairs the statement of the Armenian leadership dismissing any diplomatic solution to the conflict. It was stressed that all these steps and statements once again clearly demonstrate the destructive policy of the Armenian side.
On October 24, 2020, following a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia agreed to a humanitarian truce as of October 26th in line with the Moscow Statement of October 10, 2020.
On October 30, 2020, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Geneva. Informing the other side about the position of Azerbaijan, the Minister brought into attention the destructive actions of Armenia, the targeting of civilians and residential areas, the use of prohibited weapons against the civilian population, and the war crimes that have been committed.
The meeting was followed by a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the Minsk Group Co-chairs. During the meeting, Minister Jeyhun Bayramov presented Azerbaijan’s position on resolving the conflict on the basis of norms and principles of international law, as well as UN Security Council resolutions and decisions and documents of international organizations. Speaking about humanitarian measures, Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stressed the constructive approach of Azerbaijan. In this regard, he noted that Azerbaijan unilaterally transferred the bodies, as well as an elderly Armenian woman to the Armenian side. Minister Jeyhun Bayramov also stressed that it is unacceptable for Armenia to deliberately fire on civilians and residential areas in gross violation of international humanitarian law.
On November 10, 2020, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, issued the joint Statement. The document stated the following: A complete ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities is announced in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone effective on 10 November 2020; The Aghdam district is returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan before 20 November 2020; Along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor, a peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in the amount of 1,960 military personnel with small arms, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 units of automobile and special equipment; The peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces. The duration of the deployment of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is 5 years, with automatic extension for the next 5-year periods, if none of the Parties declares intention to terminate the application of this provision 6 months prior to the expiration of the term; In order to increase the effectiveness of control over the implementation of the agreements by the Parties to the conflict, a peacekeeping center is being deployed to control the ceasefire; The Republic of Armenia will return the Kalbajar district to the Republic of Azerbaijan before 15 November 2020, and the Lachin district by 1 December 2020. The Lachin corridor (5 km-wide), which will ensure the connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and, at the same time, will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation; In the next three years, a plan for the construction of a new route along the Lachin corridor will be determined, providing communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, with the subsequent redeployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to protect this route; The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the security of the movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions along the Lachin corridor; Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts; Exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons, and bodies take place; All economic and transport links in the region are unblocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to organize the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. Control over transport communication is carried out by the bodies of the Border Guard Service of the FSS of Russia. The construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be provided.
On December 3, 2020 at the OSCE Ministerial Council held in Tirana, the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs issued a joint statement welcoming the cessation of military activities in Nagorno-Karabakh in accordance with the statement by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020, underlining the importance of guaranteeing conditions for the safe and dignified return of people displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and reiterating their consistent and united position in favor of a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining core substantive issues of the conflict in line with the basic principles well-known to both parties.