Escalating rhetoric exchanged between Armenia and Azerbaijan has prompted the Organisation and Security of Europe (OSCE) to issue a direct response for either nation to refrain from using military might over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The territory has been the subject to decades of claims that it belongs to either one of the South Caucasus countries in focus.

The heads of the OSCE Minsk group reiterated their comments, calling on both sides to resort to a peaceful solution over the disputed territory. Reports from various media outlets based in Azerbaijan have reported that Armenia has continued to violate a long-standing, yet fragile, ceasefire agreement. This is not the first time that Azerbaijan has come out and accused Armenia of violations to the sovereignty of the territory.

On the 28th of November the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Armenia’s actions, emphasizing that Armenian troops targeted Azerbaijani locations on 51 separate locations over a 24-hour period, which would be a clear violation of the ceasefire implemented after the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The rising tensions between the South Caucusus regions have continued to escalate over the last few months. The response to the violations only came five days after Armenia held a state funeral for three soldiers who were killed when their helicopter was downed, allegedly as a result of Azerbaijan’s actions. The government in Baku countered the claims of their involvement, stating that the helicopter had made ‘attack manoeuvres’ against Azerbaijani positions, exercising a right to self-defence.

The conflict between the two nations began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against the wishes of Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war Armenian armed forces occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan, including the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

At this particular point tensions between the two nations have increased in intensity and frequency, as exchanges of political rhetoric continue to be thrown back and forth. The growing dispute over territorial sovereignty and border demarcations could render the South Caucasus into a cesspit of bickering and rash land grabs.

With Russia, Iran, Turkey, the European Union and the United States all holding key geopolitical interests in the area, it is simple enough to understand how the actions of both Armenia and Azerbaijan could affect the regional and global dynamics.

If the strategic geographic location is not enough, Azerbaijan possesses vast amounts of oil and gas reserves. This could influence the EU, the United States and various other powers in need of energy resources to become involved in the rhetoric.

Speaking to Foreign Policy Journal, Fariz Ismailzade stated that other than the two South Caucasus countries in focus, the EU, Russia and the US, there are four other ‘geopolitical players’ in the Nargorno-Karabakh dispute: Iran, Turkey, the Islamic World and China.

With various energy superpowers observing the situation at hand the circumstances could continue to escalate as outside ‘bystanders’ become set on taking sides. The rhetoric goes beyond border make-ups and profits, rather it is focused on cultural relations between the two nations and the land they argue over.

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/world/europe/further-strains-in-unresolved-war-between-armenia-and-azerbaijian-over-disputed-territory.html?_r=0

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/12/02/the-ever-thorny-azerbaijani-armenian-dossier-a-territorial-dispute-with-broad-regional-implications/

http://azertag.az/en/xeber/Armenians_violated_ceasefire_with_Azerbaijan_44_times_throughout_the_day-816120

http://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/2339711.html