Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Myth and Reality

Turkey strongly condemns the Armenian attacks which have caused civilian casualties, resulting in a clear violation of the international law. 

by R. Demet Şekercioğlu 

I am deeply concerned about some biased articles stemming from a number of foreign news agencies published recently in the Sri Lankan media on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I would like to enlighten the Sri Lankan public opinion on some truths about the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as Turkey’s position on the issue.


The conflict eruptedin the early 1990’s, when the Armenian forces launched military attacks and occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent districts, internationally recognized as the territory of Azerbaijan.Four UN Security Council Resolutions [822, 853, 874, 884] were adopted so far, urging Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its military forces from those territories. The Resolutions also reaffirm the inviolability of the international borders and the inadmissibility of use of force for the acquisition of territory. Ignoring the international law,Armenia continues its illegal occupation on 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s lands for three decades. 

An Armenian gunner: the Nagorno-Karabakh region has seen the worst flare-up in violence for many years ( Image courtesy: news agencies) 

Armenian occupation has so far caused profound human suffering. During the course of the conflict, Armenia did not refrain from targeting Azerbaijani civilians. One of the bloodiest massacres committed by Armenians was the Khojaly Massacre in 1992, where 613 elderly, women, kids and babies were savagely killed by the Armenian forces. A million of Azerbaijanis who were forcefully displaced by Armenia still yearn to return to their homes. Meanwhile, Armenia is using the stalemate to change the demographic composition of the occupied territories by resettling ethnic Armenians from Syria and Lebanon. 

The OSCE Mink Group was established in 1992 by the then conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe in order to find a negotiated solution to the conflict. However, Armenia has never been a true partner in the Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the USA.  Disregarding the UN Security Council Resolutions and OSCE decisions, Armenia makes a mockery of the international law and the rules based international system. 

Recent Developments:

On 27th September, the Armenian Armed Forces launched an intense shelling of Azerbaijan’s defence positions and civilian settlements with large caliber artillery and rockets along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a clear violation of the ceasefire as well as the international law. In fact, this attack was the culmination of Armenian provocations, which initially started on 12th July in Tovuzand continued with frequent breaches of the ceasefire by the Armenian Armed Forces along the Line of Contact. 

In a state of frenzied desperation, Armenia is intensifying its attacks on the civilian population and infrastructure in Azerbaijan away from the conflict zone. Armenian Armed Forces are targeting major cities in Azerbaijan like Gence, Mengiçevir, Abşeron, Hızı, Terter, Berde, Beylegan, Tovuz with long-range artillery and rocket fire. 

On the other hand, Azerbaijan is acting in full compliance with the international law invoking the right to self-defence enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. It is important to recognize that Azerbaijan is conducting its operations within its internationally recognized borders, on its own territory, which has been under the illegal Armenian occupation. 

While the conflict has been ongoing, there have been frequent calls for a ceasefire from all over the world. As a result, a humanitarian ceasefire was declared for the exchange of prisoners of war and bodies on 10th September. However, Armenia, breaching the ceasefire once again, attacked Gence, the second largest city of Azerbaijan on 11th September, which caused nine civilian deaths and wounded 39 others. By targeting the cities outside the occupied lands of Azerbaijan, Armenia aims to provoke Azerbaijan to retaliate on Armenia and hopes to widen the conflict to bring CSTO into the theatre.

As of 13th October, Armenian attacks which constitute a clear violation of the international humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Conventions of 1949, have claimed lives of 42 civilians including elderly people and children, leaving 206 civilians wounded with serious injuries. 1479 private houses, 66 apartment buildings and 241 civilian infrastructures got damaged and became unserviceable as a result of the indiscriminate armed attacks of Armenia. 

Turkey’s Position:

Turkey strongly condemns the Armenian attacks which have caused civilian casualties, resulting in a clear violation of the international law. Armenia’s provocations have now reached to a level that directly targets international and regional peace and stability. With these attacks, Armenia once again proves that it is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the region.

Turkey fully supports Azerbaijan with unwavering solidarity in this process. Our support for Azerbaijan is not only based on our special bonds but also stems from the reality that Azerbaijan stands on the right side of the international law. 

The Armenian allegations regarding Turkish involvement in the field and the fighters from outside are baseless and irrational. It is no secret that Turkey sells armaments to Azerbaijan like other countries such as Russia and Israel. Armenian Armed Forces are equipped with effective weapons as well. Turkey gives and will continue to give strong political and moral support to Azerbaijan. However, Turkey is not a party to this conflict and also not present on the battleground. Armenian disinformation campaign has no other goal than diverting attention away from its illegal occupation and portray Armenia as the victim. 

Turkey wants to see a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in accordance with the international law as well as UN Security Council Resolutions and OSCE decisions to ensure enduring peace and stability in the region. However, Armenia has by many means demonstrated that it does not want a peaceful negotiated settlement to the conflict. Armenia wants to preserve the status quo and consolidate its occupation. That is why Armenia has done everything to sabotage the negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group. 

Remaining equidistant to both sides, regardless of who the occupier is, does not portray a healthy understanding of impartiality; on the contrary, it rewards the aggressor.Therefore, Turkey urges international community to stop this lawlessness and put pressure on Armenia to resume sincere, substantive and result oriented negotiations in good faith. 


The writer, H.E. R. Demet Şekercioğlu  is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Colombo

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