ISSUE: Provide the USEUCOM Commander an overview of Azerbaijan’s approach to the situation in the Caucasus Region.
Primary National Interest:
Azerbaijan has been following an independent foreign policy since gaining independence in 1991. This policy aims at the strengthening and development of the state system and the protection of the national interests of Azerbaijan. The primary national interest in regards to the Caucasus Region involves such urgent issues as the risk and challenge to national security and territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the republic and the prevention of the intervention of the Republic of Armenia. The major domestic and international issue affecting Azerbaijan is the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region within Azerbaijan. The origins of the Nagorno (or Mountainous) Karabagh - Artsakh conflict reach back to the formation of the Soviet Union in the early 1920s. In 1921, responding to blackmail from oil-producing Azerbaijan and threats from Turkey, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin forcibly placed Artsakh, populated 95 percent by the Armenians, under the Azerbaijani rule. That decision was the source of the region's continuous opposition to the authority of the Soviet Azerbaijani republic.
During the seven decades of the USSR's existence, the government of Soviet Azerbaijan conducted a systematic policy of removal of Karabagh Armenians from their historic homeland. While Soviet statistics are not always reliable and have been suspected of deliberately undercounting ethnicity figures, they show that from 1923 to 1979 the Armenian population of Karabagh was reduced from 150,000 to 120,000, while the influx of new settlers increased the Azeri population five-fold from 7,500 in 1923 to 38,000 in 1979. This radical change in Karabagh's ethno-demographic composition has exacerbated...