Armenia–Azerbaijan relations

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Armenia-Azerbaijan relations
Map indicating locations of Armenia and Azerbaijan



There are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, largely due to the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The neighbouring nations had formal governmental relations between 1918 and 1921, during their brief independence from the collapsed Russian Empire, as the First Republic of Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan; these relations existed from the period after the Russian Revolution until they were occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union. Due to the two wars waged by the countries in the past century—one from 1918 to 1921 and another from 1988 to 1994—the two have had strained relations. In the wake of ongoing hostilities social memory of Soviet-era cohabitation is largely repressed among citizens in both countries.[1]

Country comparison[edit]

Official Name Republic of Armenia Republic of Azerbaijan
Flag Armenia Azerbaijan
Coat of Arms / National Emblem Coat of arms of Armenia.svg Emblem of Azerbaijan.svg
Population 2,963,243 (2020 est.)[2] — 137th 10,139,177 (2020 est.)[3] — 90th
Total Area 29,743 km2 (11,484 mi2)[4] — 138th 86,600 km2 (33,400 mi2)[5] — 112th[6]
Population Density 104/km2 (270/mi2)[7] 123/km2 (318/mi2)[8]
Capital Yerevan Baku
Largest City Yerevan (1,086,275)[9] Baku (2,347,888)[10]
Government Unitary Parliamentary Republic Unitary Dominant-Party Semi-Presidential Republic
First Leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan Ayaz Mutallibov
Current Leader(s) President Armen Sarkissian

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

President Ilham AliyevVice President Mehriban Aliyeva

Prime Minister Ali Asadov

Ruling Political Party My Step Alliance New Azerbaijan Party
Official Language(s) Armenian Azerbaijani
Main Religions Christianity (96%)

Agnosticism/Atheism (4%)

Yazidism (1%)

Other (‹1%)[11]

Islam (91%)

Christianity (5%)

Agnosticism/Atheism (3%)

Other (1%)[12]

Ethnic Groups Armenian (98%)

Yazidi (1%)

Other (‹1%)[13]

Azerbaijani (92%)

Lezgin (2%)

Armenian (1%)

Russian (1%)

Talyshi (1%)

Other (2%)[14]

Human Development Index (HDI) 0.760 (high)[15] — 81st 0.754 (high)[16] — 87th
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

— Nominal

US$12.4 billion (2018)[17] — 136th US$46.9 billion (2018)[18] — 86th
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

US$33.1 billion (2020 est.)[19] — 127th US$184.4 billion (2020 est.)[20] — 72nd
Military Expenditures (US$) $1.4 billion[21] —77th $2.8 billion[22] — 60th
Military Strength Ranking

— Worldwide Power Index

2.1251[23] — 111th

Non-nuclear weapons state

0.9463[24] — 64th

Non-nuclear weapons state


Relations between 1918 and 1921[edit]

Upon the disintegration of the Transcaucasian Federation with the proclamation of the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia on May 26, 1918, both Azerbaijan and Armenia proclaimed their independence on the same day, May 28, 1918. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan laid claim to territory which they saw as historically and ethnically theirs; these territorial disputes led to the Armenian–Azerbaijani War between 1918 and 1920, a series of conflicts that ended only when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were annexed by the Soviet Union.

Soviet period (1922–91)[edit]

Upon the establishment of USSR in 1922, Azerbaijan SSR and Armenian SSR became constituent states, initially as a part of Transcaucasian SFSR, and from 1936 as separate entities. The relations between the two nations, including in Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), were generally peaceful and friendly whilst all Soviet entities. Though occasional confrontations did occur, particularly the 1948 and the 1964 public protests in Armenia which resulted in exodus of a large number of Azeris, they remained unknown to a broader public due to strict Soviet censorship.

Karabakh War[edit]

In 1988, the Armenians of Karabakh voted to secede and join Armenia. This, along with massacres in Armenia and Azerbaijan resulted in the conflict that became known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The violence resulted in de facto Armenian occupation of former NKAO and seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions which was effectively halted when both sides agreed to observe a cease-fire which has been in effect since May 1994. In late 1995, both also agreed to mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group. The Minsk Group is currently co-chaired by the US, France, and Russia and comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and several Western European nations.

During the conflict the Siege of Stepanakert was held by Azerbaijani forces. From late 1991 to May 1992 the city and its Armenian population was a target of a months-long campaign of intentional civilian bombardment and blockade by Azerbaijan.[25][26][27] The indiscriminate shelling, sniper shooting and aerial attacks killed or maimed hundreds of civilians and destroyed homes, hospitals and other buildings that were not legitimate military targets, and generally terrorized the civilian population.[28] Azerbaijan blockaded all essential supplies, including water, electricity, food and medicines causing many deaths. Human Rights Watch reported that the main bases used by Azerbaijani armed forces for the bombardment of Stepanakert included the towns of Khojaly and Shusha.[29]

During the conflict the Khojaly massacre occurred which was the mass murder[30] of at least 161 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians from the town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992. According to Human Rights Watch, the tragedy struck when "a large column of residents, accompanied by a few dozen retreating fighters, fled the city as it fell to Armenian forces. As they approached the border with Azerbaijan, they came across an Armenian military post and were cruelly fired upon".[31][32]


After the war, relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan remained very tense. In 2008, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev declared that “Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality” and that “in 1918, Yerevan was granted to the Armenians. It was a great mistake. The khanate of Iravan was the Azeri territory, the Armenians were guests here."[33]

The two countries are still technically at war and the Azerbaijani government regularly threatens to retake Nagorno-Karabakh by military force, if mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group does not succeed.[34]

Citizens of Armenia, as well as citizens of any other country who are of Armenian descent, are forbidden entry to the Republic of Azerbaijan. If a person's passport shows any evidence of travel to Nagorno-Karabakh, barring a diplomatic passport, they are forbidden from entering the Republic of Azerbaijan.[35][36]

In 2008, in what became known as the 2008 Mardakert Skirmishes, Armenia and Azerbaijan clashed over Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting between the two sides was brief, with few casualties on either side.[33]

June 2010 saw a brief flare up of the conflict, resulting in the deaths of four Armenian soldiers and one Azeri soldier. The clash came a day after peace talks between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan which were held in Moscow.[37]

On August 31, 2010, a border clash killed three Armenians and two Azeris, although the Armenian military claimed up to seven Azeris had been killed in the fighting. Both sides blamed the other for the incident.[38] This preceded another incident on September 4 in which two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one Armenian wounded.[39]

On June 24, 2011, the two sides met in Kazan, Russia, to negotiate an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, but the talks ended in failure. Following the breakdown of talks, the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev used the June 26 Salvation Day military parade to warn Armenia that Azerbaijan may retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force.[40] On 5 October 2011, border clashes around Nagorno Karabakh left one Armenian soldier and two Azeris dead. Two Armenians were also wounded by sniper fire the same day.[41] Another violent incident occurred on 5 June 2012 when, according to the Azerbaijani side, Armenian troops crossed the border and shot dead five Azerbaijani soldiers before withdrawing. Armenia denied the claim and accused Azerbaijan of crossing the border first.[42]

In October 2013, Zakir Hasanov was appointed as Azerbaijani Defence Minister despite controversy.[citation needed]

2016 clashes[edit]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Davos, Switzerland, January 2019

After the 2016 Armenian–Azerbaijani clashes, in which an estimated 350 troops and civilians from both sides were killed, Azerbaijan declared a unilateral cease fire (the clashes started when Azerbaijani forces launched strikes to regain control of territory controlled by the Armenia-backed breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh).[43][44]

Fighting in 2020[edit]

There were fierce local clashes on the Armenia–Azerbaijan border in Armenia′s Tavush province (northeastern part of the country) and Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region from 12 until 18 July 2020. The clashes that involved artillery, tanks and shock drones, claimed the lives of at least 16 soldiers from both sides, including an Azerbaijani general.[45]

On 27 September 2020, heavy fighting along the line of contact between the troops of Karabakh and Azerbaijan resumed, with Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan declaring martial law and mobilising the male population.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leupold, David (2020). Embattled Dreamlands. The Politics of Contesting Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish Memory. New York: Routledge. p. 194.
  2. ^ "Armenia Population (2020) - Worldometer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  3. ^ "Population by Country (2020) - Worldometer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  4. ^ "List of countries and dependencies by area", Wikipedia, 2020-09-18, retrieved 2020-09-29
  5. ^ "List of countries and dependencies by area", Wikipedia, 2020-09-18, retrieved 2020-09-29
  6. ^ The figure shown includes the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (11,458 km2 or 4,424 sq mi), which is de facto independent from Azerbaijan.
  7. ^ "Armenia Population (2020) - Worldometer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  8. ^ "Azerbaijan Population (2020) - Worldometer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  9. ^ "Yerevan Population 2020 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs)". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  10. ^ "Baku, Azerbaijan Population (2020) - Population Stat". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  11. ^ "Religion In Armenia". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  12. ^ "Religious Beliefs In Azerbaijan". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  13. ^ "The Major Ethnic Groups Of Armenia". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  14. ^ "Ethnic Groups Of Azerbaijan". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  15. ^ "2019 Human Development Index Ranking | Human Development Reports". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  16. ^ "2019 Human Development Index Ranking | Human Development Reports". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  17. ^ "World Development Indicators - Google Public Data Explorer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  18. ^ "World Development Indicators - Google Public Data Explorer". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  19. ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  20. ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  21. ^ "Data for all countries from 1988–2018 in constant (2017) USD (pdf)" (PDF). STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE. 2017–2018. Retrieved 25 April 2020.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  22. ^ "Defense Spending by Country (2020)". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  23. ^ "2020 Armenia Military Strength". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  24. ^ "2020 Azerbaijan Military Strength". Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  25. ^ Human rights and democratization in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, Volume 4; Volume 85. United States. Congress. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. 1993. p. 125.
  26. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Azeri jets bomb capital of enclave - Aug 23, 1992
  27. ^ Bloodshed in the Caucasus: escalation of the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Human Rights Watch, 1992. ISBN 1-56432-081-2, 9781564320810, p. 32
  28. ^ "Human Rights Watch World Report - The Former Soviet Union". Human Rights Watch.
  29. ^ Bloodshed in the Caucasus: escalation of the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. 1992, page 12; 34
  30. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2004). Black garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war. ABC-CLIO. pp. 172–173. ISBN 0-8147-1945-7. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016.
  31. ^ Kristen Eichensehr, William Michael Reisman. Stopping wars and making peace: studies in international intervention, 2009, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers p. 63,
  32. ^ Annika Rabo, Bo Utas. "The role of the state in West Asia", Istanbul 2005, p. 175,
  33. ^ a b Azerbaijani president: Armenians are guests in Yerevan Archived 2009-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, REGNUM News Agency, January 17, 2008
  34. ^ "Azerbaijan military threat to Armenia Archived 2018-06-25 at the Wayback Machine." The Daily Telegraph. November 22, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  35. ^ Azerbaijan Country Page Archived 2009-03-08 at the Wayback Machine. NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia. Accessed 23 May 2010.
  36. ^ "Azerbaijan doesn't allow Armenians in the country -". Archived from the original on 2015-07-13. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  37. ^ "Four Armenians and one Azeri killed in Karabakh clash". Reuters. 2010-06-19. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  38. ^ "BBC News - Several killed in Nagorno-Karabakh clash". 2010-09-01. Archived from the original on 2010-09-03. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  39. ^ "PressTV - Karabakh clashes leave 2 soldiers killed". 2010-09-05. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  40. ^ "Armenia, Azerbaijan fail to reach agreement on Nagorny Karabakh | World | RIA Novosti". 2012-04-09. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  41. ^ "News from Armenia, Events in Armenia, Travel and Entertainment | Armenia, Azerbaijan Report More Deadly Skirmishes". 2011-10-06. Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  42. ^ "BBC News - Armenian forces kill five Azerbaijani troops on border". 2012-06-05. Archived from the original on 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  43. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh fighting: Azerbaijan 'calls truce'" ( BBC. BBC. 3 April 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  44. ^ Botelho, Greg; Tuysuz, Gul; Berlinger, Joshua (3 April 2016). "Azerbaijan declares unilateral ceasefire amid Nagorno-Karabakh violence" (CNN Online). Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  45. ^ "Armenia-Azerbaijan: What's Behind Latest Clashes?". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 2020-08-27.
  46. ^ "Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes kill at least 16, undermine regional stability". Reuters. 2020-08-27.

Further reading[edit]