History of the Conflict

Short story by historical facts
The dispute over the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh has festered for almost three decades. The region is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani, but has been under the occupation of Armenian Army since 1994. On November 10th, 2020 after a 44 day long II Karabakh War Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Under the deal, Azerbaijan will keep territory in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas captured during the conflict. It also calls for Armenian forces to leave the officially recognized lands of Azerbaijan. More info: https://en.president.az/articles/45924

The Armenian side is trying to present this conflict as Turkish-Armenian or Muslim-Christian confrontation, which is totally wrong. 

While Armenia is a monoetnich country, in Azerbaijan along with Turks, representatives of a number of other ethnic minorities live together. The Tats, Talyshes, Kurds, Mountain Jews belonging to the Iranian languages group of the Indo-European family of languages, the Lezgins, Avars, Udis, Tsakhurs, belonging to the Avar-Ando-Tsez subgroup of the East Caucasian (Dagestani) group of the Caucasian family of languages, the peoples of “Shahdag group” (Khinalug, budug, Kryz), the Ingiloys belonging to the Kartvelian group of the Caucasian languages family and speaking on an Ingiloy dialect of Georgian language, live here. Besides, the Russians who have settled in the 30s of the 19th century and belonging to the East Slavic languages group, and also since 50-60s of the 20th century the Meskhetian Turks live in Azerbaijan.

More information about Etnich Diversity in Azerbaijan: https://multiculturalism.preslib.az/en_a3.html

In the Republic of Azerbaijan, there are various religious faiths. While more than 90 percent of the population of Azerbaijan is Muslim, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and many other religious trends side by side, having mutual impact on one another.

The history of Christianity in Azerbaijan practically begins with the emergence of the Albanian church. The territory of the Caucasian Albania is considered one of the places of origin of the first Christian communities. Registration of the Alban-Udi Christian religious community is a significant event in its character, contents, religious and political importance.

The religious-ethnic groups settled in the territory of Azerbaijan during the different periods of history not only did not consider themselves aliens here, even closely merged with the local population, have established relations with them. Representatives of various religious faiths always showed solidarity with the Azerbaijani people, fought for freedom and welfare of the common Motherland.

Today in Azerbaijan, freely, without any obstacles are functioning not only churches and synagogues, but also numerous Christian and Jewish religious educational institutions, the Azerbaijani state renders them, within the law, any necessary support. The Azerbaijani people always, not only in the East, but also around the world differed and today differ in its specific tolerant relation to various religions and religious-philosophical currents.

More about tolerance in Azerbaijan: https://multiculturalism.preslib.az/en_a4.html


Ancient history

The territory of present-day Nagorno-Karabakh belonged to Caucasian Albania in the first century A.D. [source: "Great Soviet Encyclopedia," 1973]. While the establishment of Karabakh as an independent state dates back to the 18th century, founded by Azerbaijani Turkish khan, Panah Ali-bey Javanshir. [source: R. Hewsen, "Journal Of The Society For Armenian Studies," Vol. 6, 1995, p. 270]. 

The modern Christian heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh has its roots in the ancient kingdom of Caucasian Albania, called Aghvank in Armenian. Armenian language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, Caucasian Albanian - the pre-Islamic ancestors of modern Azerbaijanis - spoke an indigenous Caucasian language. Both Caucasian Albania and Armenia were converted to Christianity in the fourth century.

The religion was first brought to Armenia by an ethnic Parthian noble, St. Gregory the Illuminator, but the first Christian church in the Caucasus was built in Albania. The church of Kish was established in the present-day Sheki region of Azerbaijan by St. Eliseus, a disciple of St. Thaddeus, who in 201 A.D. converted King Abgar IX of Edessa, making Osroene the first Christian state.

Upon the Islamic conquest of the Caucasus in the ninth century, Nagorno-Karabakh (“Artsakh”) was ruled by the Albanian princes [source: C. J. F. Dowsett, "A Neglected Passage In The 'History Of The Caucasian Albanians'", BSOAS, 19(3), 1957], while the Albanians in the eastern plain of Karabakh mixed with the Turkic population and became Muslims [source: R.G. Suny, "Looking Towards Ararat: Armenia In Modern History," 1993]. Thus the "Canons Of Aghvan," composed in the fifth century, were a part of the Caucasian Albanian historical heritage shared by present-day Azerbaijanis. [full story: https://www.rferl.org/a/Karabakh_Peace_Process_Must_Be_Fully_Inclusive_/1812056.html]

More about ancient Caucaisan Albania & Karabakh: https://karabakh.org/karabakh-history/history-of-karabakh/


Today, descendants of Caucasian Albania living in different regions of Azerbaijan. 

Udis (3.8 thousand people, 2009 Census), the descendants of the Udis are the descendants of the “Uti” tribe of the Caucasian Albania live primarily in Gabala and Oguz regions of Azerbaijan. The largest number of udins resides in the village of Nij, Gabala region. On May 26, 2003, a religious entity was formalized and registered with the government called the "Albanian Udin Christian Community of the Azerbaijan Republic". In the early 1990s, Jora Kochari, one of the elders of the Udin community in Nij, registered a Cultural Foundation with the government. Since then, he has worked hard to produce numerous literary works in the Udi language. Since Azerbaijan has adopted Latin as their official alphabet, Udins also have based their 52-letter alphabet on Latin as well. Such nationalistic gestures would have been impossible during the Soviet period. [source: https://chai-khana.org/en/story/9/udis-the-descendants-of-the-albanians]

The Tsakhurs (12.3 thousand people, 2009 Census) have settled in Zaqatala, Gakh and Balaken regions of Azerbaijan. Tsakhurs are one of the ancient inhabitants of the Caucasian Albania.

The Ingiloys (9.9 thousand people, 2009 Census) are divided into the Muslim Ingiloys and Christian Ingiloys (the Georgian Orthodox Church). The Muslim Ingiloys live in the Mosul and Aliabad villages of Zaqatala region, in the Ititala village of Balaken region, while the Christian Ingiloys - in 9 villages of Gakh region. In ancient times, the territory where Ingiloys lived was called Kambisena (Ereti, Hereti), the main population of which consisted of the tribes “Er” and “Gel”, who were considered to be Ingiloys’ ancestors. An Albanian church functioned there. A part of Ingiloys are the descendants of the Albanian tribes who later have forcibly accepted the Georgian religion. Traditional occupations of Ingiloys are agriculture, gardening and partially animal husbandry. In the past, among them also was widespread silkworm breeding and rice growing. [source: https://multiculturalism.preslib.az/en_a3.html]

In November 2020, Udis was praying for liberation of occupied Caucasian Albanian churches in Azerbaijan. [source: https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/karabakh/3328512.html]


Roots of modern Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Roots of modern Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are dating back to 19th century, when Russian Empire gained control over this lands and started mass resettlement of Armenians from modern Iran and the Ottoman empire to Karabakh along with other Azerbaijan regions during Russia-Iran wars (1804-1813, 1826-1828), Russia-Turkey wars (1806-1812, 1828-1829) and particularly after Turkmenchay (1828) and Adirna (1829).

The establishment of the Armenian state under the patronage of Russia as well as the resettlement of Armenians from Turkey and Iran to the lands occupied by Russiar resulted from the Russian-Armenian relations that were developed not only in trade, as stated in the Russian and Armenian history, but also in the hostile attitude towards the East Muslim states, especially Turkey and since the 18th century - Azerbaijan.

The Armenian-Russian relations expanded with the occupation of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) by Russia and Turkish wars (1635-1639, 1711, 1768-1774, 1787-1791) and the attempts to conquer the Caspian lands even strengthened. During this process the Armenians started to be resettled to Russia and their colonies were established. 

The state order of Peter the Great to the Armenian people (October 10, 1724) played a great role in this process. The order agreed on the resettlement of Armenians on the lands occupied by Russia.

This political course of Peter the First continued within a century. The Armenian resettlement and unification intensified after the victory of Russia in the Russian-Iranian war of 1804-1813 and the signing of the Gulustan agreement which divided Azerbaijan in two parts.

The Russian author of the 19th century S. Glinka wrote: 

Increase of the resettled related Christian people [in Azerbaijan] can place a reliable stronghold in the borders of Russia for repulse of the hostile actions of the neighbouring peoples, particularly, of the Turks, Persians, and the mountaineers.

[source: S. Glinka «Resettlement of the Armenians of Adderbijan to the borders of Russia» (Описание переселения армян аддербиджанских в пределы России). Moscow 1831, Baku 1990, p. 93 (in Russian); under name «Adderbijan» the author means the South (Iranian) Azerbaijan; https://www.prlib.ru/item/434748].

According to the data of 1823 Armenian families accounted for 1,5 thousand out of 20 thousand families of the Karabakh province (the territory of the former Karabakh khanate). The ethnic composition of the population changed dramatically after the resettlement 

[source: “Description of the Karabakh province prepared in 1823 according to the order of the governor in Georgia Yermolov by state advisor Mogilevsky and colonel Yermolov 2nd” (Описание Карабахской провинции, составленное в 1823 году, по распоряжению главноуправляющего в Грузии Ермолова, действительным статским советником Могилевским и полковником Ермоловым 2-м.) Tbilisi 1866].







15,729 (78.30%)

4,366 (21.70%)


1,111 (72.50%)

421 (27,50%)


14,618 (78,70%)

3,945 (21,30%)

* Azerbaijanis

It also has to be noted, that of the total Karabakh population, the share of 5 districts situated in the mountainous part of Karabakh, i.e. the districts of Dizak, Varanda, Chelaberd, Khachen and Talish where Azeris and Armenians lived mixed, was 1,559 families (7.75%). [source: Description of the Karabakh province. op. cit. [61] / Sources on the history of Azerbaijan (Источники по истории Азербайджана). Baku, 1989, p. 263]. 

Despite its importance, a substantial deficiency of this document was the fact that Armenians – first wave settlers from Iran – were included in the register without provisions.

Resettlement of Armenians increased substantially during the second Russo-Iranian war in 1826-1828. 18,000 Armenian families (40,000 people) were settled in Karabakh, particularly in its mountainous part. This source also shows that with exception of the villages of Ahlatian, Pirnakhay and Shinatag in Zangezur, the populations of all the Armenian villages were immigrants from Iran.

Armenian Catholicos Nerses Ashtaraketsi worked out a project on the resettlement of Armenians. A.S.Griboyedov also contributed to the development and implementation of the plan. Nerses was invited from Petersburg for leading the resettlement of Armenians in November of 1827. He wrote to Yegiazar Lazaryan that stayed in Tebriz at that time: 

I’ve just asked the devoted supporter of the Armenian people A.S. Griboyedov not to forget my request about Christian refugees and their acceptance under the flag of Russian masters…I am also writing about all Armenians living in Iran and now I ask you Ivan Fyodorovich Paskovich to return the towns and villages that are controlled by Iranian government to Armenia under the protection of Russia during the reconciliation”.

The Turkmenchay agreement signed on February 10, 1828 stipulated for the resettlement of Armenians by its Article 15 [full text: https://karabakh.org/treaties/turkmenchay-treaty/].

From Article 15: " His majesty Shah forgives all of the population and officials of the Azerbaijan province.…Moreover, he gives a year for these families to move from Iran to Russia freely and to carry their movable property without any tariffs and taxes imposed on them and sell them. As for the immovable property the families are given five years to sell it or to present it to someone voluntarily".

The resettlement committees were established in Yerevan and Nakhichevan for organizing the resettlement of Armenians. The displaced persons were granted important privileges: they were released from taxes and tariffs for the term of six years. They were delivered benefits from the indemnity received from Iran [source: A.A.Bakikhanov’s Institute of History under the ANAS, http://www.no-genocide.us/post/166].

Armenians paid a great attention to the places they were going to settle in Transcaucasia.

It's necessary to resettle Armenians from the regions occupied by Russian Army that are Tebriz, Khoy, Salmas, Maragha to Nakhichevan, Yerevan and Karabakh.. Armenians, in most of their part, were settled in the lands of the Muslim landowners…The settlers are by themselves in very constrained situation and constraint the Muslims, which grumble and with good reason…we discussed a lot about the influences which we have to exercise on the Muslims [i.e. the Azeris who accepted the Armenian settlers] to reconcile them with their present burdened situation, which will not last long, and to eradicate their fear concerning that the Armenians will seize forever the territory, where they were allowed to for the first time.


More Armenians were resettled from the Ottoman Empire after the war of 1826-28. The Russian author of the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century, N. N. Shavrov, describes all these processes as follows: 

After the war of 1826-1828 ended, during the period of 1828-1930 we (i.e. Russia) have resettled to the Transcaucasus more than 40.000 Persian and 84.600 Turkish Armenians and placed them in the best state lands of Yelizavetpol and Erivan provinces, where [the number of] the Armenian population was miserable, and in Tiflis, Borchaly, Akhaltsiki and Akhalkalaki districts” (all mentioned districts are the territory of present-day Georgia).

[source: Shavrov N. N. «New threat to the Russian affairs in the Transcaucasus: forthcoming sale of Mughan to strangers» (Новая угроза русскому делу в Закавказье: предстоящая распродажа Мугани инородцам). St. Petersburg, 1911, p.59 (in Russian) / Id. pp. 60-61; https://www.prlib.ru/item/429115]

Shavrov also indicates that: 

124.000 Armenians officially being resettled, there were many who resettled unofficially, therefore, the total number of those who resettled, considerably exceeds 200.000.

[source: Shavrov N. N. «New threat to the Russian affairs in the Transcaucasus: forthcoming sale of Mughan to strangers» (Новая угроза русскому делу в Закавказье: предстоящая распродажа Мугани инородцам). St. Petersburg, 1911, p.59 (in Russian) / Id. pp. 60-61; https://www.prlib.ru/item/429115]

Azerbaijanis made up 64.8% and Armenians 34.8% of the total population of Karabakh in 1832.



[source: The Penny Encyclopaedia [ed. by G. Long]., Volume 11, p. 175]

In consequent years, the massive resettlement of Armenians to the South Caucasus, “Was going – using the words of another Russian author of XIX c. V. L. Velichko, – now hardly noticeable stream, now wide, impetuous torrent” . 

[source: Velichko V.L. «The Caucasus. Russian affairs and interethnic questions» (Кавказ. Русское дело и межплеменные вопросы). St Petersburg, 1904, vol. 1, p. 75; Baku, 1990, p. 81]

Armenians were resettled again during the Crimean war (1853-1856). Unfortunately, their number was not registered. 

During the years of Russo-Ottoman war of 1877-1879, 85,000 Armenians were resettled to the South Caucasus, in 1894 this number was 90,000, in 1897 another 10,000.

[source: Shavrov N. N. «New threat to the Russian affairs in the Transcaucasus: forthcoming sale of Mughan to strangers» (Новая угроза русскому делу в Закавказье: предстоящая распродажа Мугани инородцам). St. Petersburg, 1911, p.59 (in Russian) / Id. pp. 60-61; https://www.prlib.ru/item/429115]

In the 1880s Azerbaijanis accounted for 41.5% and Armenians for 58.2% of the total population of the Shusha district. These indicators equaled 45 and 53% in 1897 and 40.2 and 52.3% in 1917 in Russia. 

[source: «Statistical data about the population of the Transcaucasian region, extracted from the family lists of 1886» (Свод статистических данных о населении Закавказскаго края, извлеченных из посемейных списков 1886 г). Tiflis, 1893, IV; https://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01005403186]

The first Russian Empire population census of 1897 showed that of the total population of Karabakh Azeris constituted 53%, Armenians – 45%.For the first time in history, Armenians constituted the majority in some places of Karabakh. Although, in general, Azerbaijanis still constituted the majority in the region.

[source: The Caucasus Calendar of 1897, LXVIII – Yelizavetpol gubernia (province). St Petersburg, 1904, p. 3; https://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01003825031]























































































* Turks - Azerbaijanis

** Current capital of Armenia, “Yerevan”.

- Population distribution by main language and counties

- Russian Empire except for the provinces of European Russia

[source: http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/ssp/emp_lan_97_uezd.php?reg=566]

N.I.Shavrov in 1911: "To date 1 million out of 1 million and 300 thousand people of the total population of Transcaucasia are not aboriginal inhabitants they have been resettled there from our country.

[source: Shavrov N. N. «New threat to the Russian affairs in the Transcaucasus: forthcoming sale of Mughan to strangers» (Новая угроза русскому делу в Закавказье: предстоящая распродажа Мугани инородцам). St. Petersburg, 1911, p.59 (in Russian) / Id. pp. 60-61; https://www.prlib.ru/item/429115]

Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh marked the 150th anniversary of their resettlement in 1978, and a special monument was erected in the Maraghashen-Leninavan region of Mardakert Aghdara. As stated above, the resettlement of Armenians was implemented for the sake of both Russia and Armenia's political interests. But 10 years later, in 1988, the inscription "150" was removed from the monument. This was done to hide the facts about the artificial mass resettlement of Armenians to the region.

During the current days Russia still uses its power and tries to keep control over Nagorno-Karabakh, the ancient Azerbaijani lands. Russia, the country which played a main role to resettle Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh 2 centuries ago now plays a role of “Peacemakers” in the region.