Formal name: Republic of Azerbaijan.
Estimated population: 7,771,092 (2001 est.).
Post-Cold War ethnic conflict in Azerbaijan has been violent and has let to massive population displacement inside the country. Ethnic conflict has affected a specific region - the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan. Currently, this region is under dispute as both Azerbaijan and Armenia make historical claims to it. Azerbaijan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 but ethnic conflict began in 1988 when the Armenian majority in the Nagorno-Karabakh region declared unification with Armenia. Ethnic violence followed between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Between 1988 and 1991 members of both ethnic groups were forced to flee as ethnic tensions worsened forcing Azerbaijanis to leave for Azerbaijan while Armenians fled in the opposite direction to Armenia. After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, this conflict escalated into full war, it has cost the lives of thousands of people, and hundred of thousands became refugees or internally displaced. Although this conflict took place within the national territory of Azerbaijan, it also has an international dimension, as Armenia supports ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the early 1990s nearly one million people where displaced into other parts of Azerbaijan or into Iran when Karabakh and Armenian forces made significant military advances in areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh. The territorial gains by Karabakh and Armenian forces have resulted in Azerbaijan losing about 20 per cent of its own territory outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In May 1994 a ceasefire was agreed between both sides and has generally been observed. Today Azerbaijan host almost 600,000 displaced persons and more than 200,000 refugees. The Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is mediating peace negotiations, but it has so far made no significant breakthrough, particularly regarding the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
- CIA World Factbook 2002 http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/aj.html
- Library of Congress Country Studies http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?fdr/cstdy:@field(DOCID)+az0007