The Second Karabakh War

The Second Karabakh War

Patriotic War or “Operation Iron Fist”

On the morning of 27 September 2020, Armenia’s Armed Forces launched a large-scale attack, subjecting settlements and frontline positions of the Azerbaijani army to intensive fire from large-calibre weapons, mortars and artillery devices of various calibre, following which, in order to halt the Armenian army’s attack and ensure the security of the civilian population, the Azerbaijani army command decided to launch a rapid counter-offensive along the whole front. As a result of these clashes, martial law and a general mobilization were declared in Armenia. In Azerbaijan, martial law and a curfew were declared, with a partial mobilization being declared on 28 September. The clashes escalated rapidly into the Second Karabakh War.

Many countries and also the United Nations called for a cessation of hostilities, for both sides to reduce tensions and resume talks without delay. Afghanistan, Ukraine, Pakistan, Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus expressed support for Azerbaijan. On 29 September, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Although a humanitarian ceasefire, supported by Russia and mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, was accepted by both Armenia and Azerbaijan, with official effect from 10 October, terrorist violations by Armenia’s Armed Forces that targeted civilians led to the suspension of wounded and prisoner exchange.

The background

Especially following the 1994 Bishkek Protocol signed with Armenia, Azerbaijan, which lost 20 percent of its territory as a result of the First Karabakh War, held long-term diplomatic talks with various international organizations. The purpose was to implement UN Security Council resolutions that demanded the unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory. The peace process was severely shaken by populist statements such as "Karabakh is Armenia, full stop", by Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in Armenia after the colour revolution of 2018, as well as a succession of provocative and illegal visits to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and other actions.

In a continuation of those provocations, in March 2019, while on an official visit to the United States, Armenia’s Minister of Defence David Tonoyan announced a policy of "new war for new lands." Tonoyan's statement was accompanied by a series of military adventures on the line of contact. In July 2020, units of Armenia’s Armed Forces used artillery fire in an attempt to seize favourable positions on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border towards Tovuz, but were unsuccessful. On 23 July, the same forces announced the launch of joint air defence system exercises with Russia. Following them, Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces hosted forces from Turkey for a number of joint military exercises until early September. Meanwhile, in August, an Armenian military sabotage-reconnaissance group attempted sabotage in the Goranboy area of the line of contact, but was forced to retreat with losses and the capture of the group's commander, Senior Lieutenant Gurgin Alberyan.

In addition to direct military provocation, and in violation of international law, thousands of Lebanese Armenians, including a large number of YPG and PKK terrorists, were resettled in the occupied territories, following the explosion in the port of Beirut and this, too, exacerbated the conflict. Tensions peaked in late August 2020 when Anna Hakobyan, wife of Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, publicized her participation in illegal military training in the occupied territories. However ineffective, these provocative actions and statements from Armenia have been assessed by researchers as a total negation of the negotiation process.

On 25 September 2020, Republic of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, in online debate at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, noted the deaths of Azerbaijani servicemen and a 76-year-old civilian, as well as serious damage to civil infrastructure; the results of Armenian attacks. Further, the president declared that more than a thousand tons of military equipment had been transported to Armenia by military cargo planes since 17 July. On 27 September, Hikmet Hajiyev, presidential aide and head of the Foreign Policy Department in the Presidential Administration, issued a statement that at around 06:00 there had been a gross violation of the ceasefire by Armenia’s Armed Forces. On the same day, Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces launched a counter-offensive to prevent further provocations and martial law was declared in the country.

The course of the battles

In the battles that followed, Azerbaijan advanced rapidly and incurred very few losses. Initially liberating a number of villages and strategic bridges, its forces had liberated the whole of Karabakh’s southern border with Iran by 22 October and they then began moving towards the Lachin Corridor on 23 October. That corridor was the only relatively major highway connecting Armenia with the so-called Karabakh entity; control of it would prevent Armenia from replenishing fuel, ammunition and military reinforcements. Until then, Azerbaijan had put the Armenian army under daytime attack from conventional artillery, mortars and even direct fire and guided missiles to halt their military convoys. During the war, Jabrayil was liberated on 4 October, Fuzuli on 17 October, Zengilan on 20 October, Gubadli on 25 October and Shusha city on 8 November.

The Shusha operation, unprecedented in modern military history

Details of the patriotic war have not yet been fully clarified, but it is safe to say that the operation to liberate Shusha from occupation will be forever in the annals of history. The crown, the beating heart of Karabakh - Shusha is a natural fortification, so it was impossible to enter the city with tanks or other heavy weaponry. There were two options to take it. Firstly, to defeat the enemy’s forces in the city by air strikes and artillery fire. Azerbaijan’s military command did not choose that way, due to the inevitably extensive destruction of the city that would result. The alternative was hand-to-hand combat, and this was the strategy adopted. Our heroic soldiers and officers traversed thick forests and deep ravines with light weapons, climbed rocks and mountains and defeated the enemy in face-to-face battle. A foreign journalist in Khankendi during the Shusha operation described the deplorable situation of the Armenians as follows: the defenders of Shusha were scattered. Dozens of wounded were taken in military ambulances to Khankendi hospital, covered in blood. The rest of the fighters, exhausted and throwing off their military uniforms, went down the mountain. Ambulances came and went non-stop. Wounded soldiers were piled on top of each other inside. Their injuries were evidence of hand-to-hand combat. Another report, published by Le Monde at the time, said that the defeated soldiers of the Armenian army left Shusha wounded and fled to Khankendi. On 8 November, the victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev gave our people the good news of Shusha’s liberation. The winning of Shusha, in fact, decided the fate of the war. The next day came news that more than 70 villages had been liberated, and one day later Prime Minister Pashinyan was forced to sign an act of capitulation, accepting the terms of the President of Azerbaijan.

On 10 November, the President of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Russia signed a statement declaring a complete ceasefire and end to all military operations in the conflict zone. According to the terms of the statement, Aghdam was liberated on 20 November, Kelbajar on 25 November, and Lachin on 1 December without a single shot being fired or single casualty. The statement also announced the planned construction of new transport communications connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of the rest of Azerbaijan. Thus, Azerbaijan's military victory had forced Armenia to capitulate. The ceasefire was violated on 11 December - the first time since the end of military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh and the start of peacekeeping operations by the Russian Federation. The violation of the ceasefire was registered in Hadrut, where one Azerbaijani soldier was wounded.

Azerbaijan's military superiority

The Azerbaijani army made extensive use of the Israeli-made Harop strike weaponry during the 44-day war, including the Israel-Azerbaijan, jointly-produced Strike drone, as well as other UAVs like the Bayraktar TB2 strike drones. Azerbaijan destroyed $1 billion worth of Armenian military equipment with the Bayraktar TB2 drones alone. They were used to deliver precise strikes on enemy equipment and manpower, as well as directing artillery fire and conducting reconnaissance. Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer noted that despite an approximate balance in the respective militaries, the Azerbaijani army had a technological advantage.

Losses in the Second Karabakh War

According to information from Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence, its armed forces incurred losses of 2907 service personnel in the war. This number may increase following DNA analysis of other bodies and enquiries into the fates of more than 100 personnel still missing. The wounded are being treated in medical facilities. Losses of military equipment were relatively minor.

Although the Armenian side confirms losses of 2,425 service personnel during the war, in reality the figure is much higher.

As a result of the 44-day war, Armenia lost 10 x S-300 missiles and their tactical-combat vehicles, 366 tanks, 352 cannon of various calibres, 22 unmanned aerial vehicles, 5 x Su-25 aircraft, 50 Tor, Osa, Kub and Krug anti-aircraft missile systems. At the same time, of particular significance was the destruction in combat operations of the following ballistic missiles: 97 Grad, 4 Smerch, 1 Tos thermobaric, 2 Hurricane, 1 Yars and 1 Tochka-U, as well as Elbrus missile complexes. The value of military equipment destroyed or captured by the Azerbaijani army is estimated at a minimum of $3.8 billion.

Foreign, mercenary and terrorist participants in the war

Prior to the conflict, Turkish sources reported that many members of the YPG and PKK from Iraq and Syria had been relocated to Nagorno-Karabakh to train Armenian armed fighters against Azerbaijan. On 30 September, they reported that about 300 PKK fighters had been moved to Nagorno-Karabakh via Iran. According to the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on 28 September, there were mercenaries of Armenian origin from Syria and various countries in the Middle East among Armenian casualties. On 30 September, Hikmet Hajiyev said that, "the international community must respond adequately to the use of Armenian terrorist forces against Azerbaijan." A number of PKK and YPG members also admitted in recent interviews with various media outlets that members of those terrorist organizations were fighting on the Armenian side in Karabakh.

Further, it is known that citizens of Armenian descent living in Lebanon, Syria, France and some Latin American countries took part in hostilities at the urging of the Armenian Diaspora, and in violation of the principles of international law. On 1 October, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that Syrian fighters of Armenian descent had been taken from Syria to Armenia.

The domestic situation in Azerbaijan during the Second Karabakh War; a unity of people and government

Political and economic stability prevailed in Azerbaijan during the Second Karabakh War; the highest level of unity was apparent between people and government.

On the morning of 27 September, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies announced that a number of restrictions had been imposed on the internet within the country to counter provocations by Armenia. The State Committee for Work with the Diaspora also appealed to Azerbaijanis living abroad not to spread unofficial, unspecified or biased information on social networks or electronic and other media. At a meeting in the Milli Majlis (parliament) discussing the military situation, it was decided to declare a curfew in Baku, Ganja, Goygol, Yevlakh and a number of regions from 00:00 on 27 September. By that order, Vilayat Eyvazov, Minister of Internal Affairs, was appointed commandant of the territories in which curfew was applied during martial law. Azerbaijan Airlines’ press service also announced that all airports in Azerbaijan would be closed to regular passenger flights until 30 September. President Ilham Aliyev issued an order for partial mobilization in Azerbaijan and instructed the State Service for Mobilization and Conscription to ensure conscription of military officials and the implementation of measures arising from military-transport requirements in accordance with approved plans. That order came into force on 28 September. The Azerbaijani Army’s success in preventing military advances by the Armenian Armed Forces and its victories over the enemy achieved along the front were met with great joy and enthusiasm by the Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijani citizens and those living abroad, as well as Turkish citizens, sent numerous letters of congratulation and gratitude to President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev for those achievements. Thousands of Turkish citizens awaiting a "command for war against the Armenians" also sent him letters, saying they were always ready to free the fraternal state from the occupiers. Also since 27 September, the country’s tricolour flag has flown on the streets of Baku, on the balconies of residential buildings, shop fronts and other facilities. People fly the flag from their homes in honour of the successes achieved at the front and the liberation of their lands. Cars are also adorned with smaller flags.

On 30 September, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, together with the Azerbaijani FA, organized a flag campaign "We are strong together." Volunteers distributed hundreds of flags in different parts of the capital, Baku.

The domestic situation in Armenia

On 27 September 2020, The Armenian government issued resolution 1585N: a mobilisation of people aged under 55. It also stated that men between the ages of 18 and 55 in Armenia could only leave the country with the written permission of the territorial military commissariats. On 29 September, the trial of former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan and other former officials accused of involvement in the post-election riots of 2008 was postponed due to the departure of former Armenian Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan to the front line. On 1 October, access to the TikTok program was banned in Armenia. On the same day, the Armenian National Security Service announced that a former high-ranking Armenian military official had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Azerbaijani intelligence and charged with treason. On 2 October, Armenia closed all roads to Nagorno-Karabakh; they were to be used only for military purposes. Due to the demoralization of the personnel of a number of frontline units of the Armenian Armed Forces, and a widespread refusal by many soldiers to fight, the Armenian Defence Ministry appealed to the women of the country. On 2 October, the Ministry established a women's battalion and began recruiting for it. Armenia’s hopes depended on its women.

Information warfare, cyber attacks

The information war waged by Armenia against Azerbaijan during the Second Karabakh War was also countered effectively, indeed Azerbaijan defeated Armenia in the information arena, too. False news spread by Armenia was refuted in timely fashion, and objective information delivered to the global community. Cyber attacks were satisfactorily nullified.

President Ilham Aliyev, employed his deep knowledge, iron logic and irrefutable arguments to single-handedly neutralize smear campaigns by pro-Armenian media and support the effort on the information front. Some Western correspondents had been specially assigned to divert attention, citing fake information to make unfounded accusations against the Azerbaijani side. Certain of these were raised repeatedly: Turkish participation in the conflict, the use of F-35s, the involvement of mercenaries from Syria and Libya, violations of the ceasefire etc. And each time, the head of state patiently demolished these accusations with irrefutable facts and evidence, then spoke about the history of Karabakh, the causes of the conflict, taking the opportunity to convey the real truth to the world. Let's take a question during an interview with the German ARD TV channel and the president's answer. Question: When we were there, in that area, a question arose. Why is Karabakh so important for Azerbaijan? Is it a question of resources, or does it have symbolic importance? Answer: Are Alsace and Lothringen important to you? Is Bavaria important to you? Or Rhine-Westphalia? This is our land, our territory, recognized internationally. It is not a question of resources. The main resources are here in Baku. It is a question of justice, a matter of national pride, and an issue of international law. This response, brief but concise, was deeply meaningful. It was so effective that I do not believe any other Western correspondent will ask our president a similar question.

Any review of the past 17 years shows that President Ilham Aliyev has worked constantly to keep the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh on the agenda. It has featured in all his speeches and statements, at sessions of international organizations, in all his meetings with world leaders and in interviews. He endeavoured to ensure that everyone knew which side was aggressor and which victim. Now the whole world is aware. This is one of the main factors that determined success in the war. As for the victory on the battlefield, it suffices to describe two completely different scenes at its end: on one side of the front, the victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the army, Ilham Aliyev, stands proud; on the other side, Nikol Pashinyan, with an army scattered and humiliated. Our people raise portraits of their leader, Ilham Aliyev, while Nikol Pashinyan is ridiculed and the butt of jokes. "You were going to build a road in Jabrayil, Pashinyan. What happened? Where is that the road? You were building a parliament building in Shusha, what happened? It went to hell.” These words of our president are now proverbial for his people. When someone’s actions do not live up to his words, they jeer and ask: "What happened, Pashinyan?"

Azerbaijani hackers got into a number of Armenian websites and posted President Ilham Aliyev's words from the international arena, "Karabakh is Azerbaijan, exclamation mark", as well as "If an Armenian soldier does not want to die, he should get off Azerbaijani land." Pictures of Azerbaijan's National Hero Mubariz Ibrahimov were also posted on Armenian websites. A total of 90 Armenian websites were hacked in attacks that began at noon on 27 September. These sites include the country’s most popular news and video portals. And in attacks that began on the evening of 27 September, Azerbaijani hackers seized a large number of confidential documents from Armenian state structures. These documents contained much information about the State Security Service, the president of Armenia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

And also to prevent possible Armenian provocations, the Electronic Security Service of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies called on citizens not to access links on social media, and not to download files or links in e-mails or phone messages. On 29 September, the hacker group Anti-Armenia Team seized 10 GB of confidential documents from Armenia’s armed forces. Several hackers from the Karabakh Hacking Team hacked the Armenian government's electronic document management system. As a result, 50 TB of documents were obtained.

The strong will of Azerbaijan’s political leadership

On 27 September, President Ilham Aliyev chaired a meeting of the Security Council. The president said, "As you know, early this morning, the Armenian armed forces committed another military provocation against Azerbaijan. As a result, we have losses among both the civilian population and the military. I warned Armenia. After the Tovuz events, I warned them several times that they would regret it if they did not give up their dirty tricks. Our counter operation is proceeding successfully. At the same time, tens of thousands are volunteering for the army. This shows our people’s loyalty to their state."

During a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president noted that the statement by Armenia’s prime minister, "Karabakh is Armenia, full stop", had rendered the negotiation process meaningless and the Armenian leadership's demand that Azerbaijan talk with the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic should be regarded as an attempt to change the format of negotiations. The Azerbaijani army was fighting on its own land, and the Armenian army should not be on Azerbaijani soil.

On 29 September, President Ilham Aliyev was interviewed on the Russian Channel One programme, ‘60 Minutes’. He spoke out about the criticism of Turkey: "I believe that Turkey has a stabilizing influence in the region. Turkey is a fraternal country and our ally, giving us moral support, and we thank the Turkish leadership, the president and the Turkish people for their solidarity and support. All the rumours spread by the Armenian side about Turkey's participation in the conflict are provocations. The Azerbaijani army is well prepared to defend its people and territory,” he said. Asked about the Syrian National Army fighting in Karabakh, he said: "This is also fake news. There is not one fact, no evidence, and it was put out by Armenian propaganda." - he said and the interview was over.

On 30 September, Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva met with servicemen wounded during the Armenian attack that began on 27 September and who were undergoing treatment at the Defence Ministry’s Central Military Clinical Hospital. The president said: “The prime minister of Armenia set conditions for us. I said a while ago that we reject those conditions. We have one condition: that they leave our lands unconditionally, completely and immediately. I said that the Azerbaijani people will never be reconciled with this occupation".

Addressing the nation on 4 October, the president spoke about illegal settlement in Karabakh: "What does it mean to relocate the parliament of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to Shusha? Again, it is an attempt to insult the Azerbaijani people. What does it mean to build a new road from Armenia to Jabrayil? It means that there will be illegal settlement. Armenians are already being brought from Lebanon and other places, and resettled in our ancient city, Shusha, as shown on television, violating international conventions, trampling on the Geneva Convention. Does anyone have anything to say to them? I instructed all our foreign diplomatic missions. Raise this issue, tell the UN, the OSCE, the European Union, other organizations, that this is illegal! Illegal settlement is a crime! Has there been any reaction? Has the Minsk Group made a statement? It has not! Has the European Union spoken? It has not! They said that they had no interest in it. If it was of no interest then, then stay out of it now. What are you fussing about now? Nagorno-Karabakh is ours, our land, we must return there, we are returning, and will return!" he added.

On 8 November, the victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev addressed the people of Azerbaijan from the Avenue of Martyrs following the liberation of Shusha, saying, “We achieved this historic victory on the battlefield. 8 November 2020 will remain forever in the history of Azerbaijan. This history will live forever. This is our glorious victory, our day of triumph! We achieved this victory on the battlefield, not at a negotiating table. I have said many times that, despite all statements to the contrary, there are military solutions to this conflict - the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and today we are proving it on the battlefield. After 28 years, the call to prayer will be heard again in Shusha. Without this unity, without national solidarity, we would never have been able to liberate our lands from the occupiers. We have proved to the whole world that Karabakh has always been Azerbaijani land. We have proven that the Azerbaijani people have lived on these lands for centuries. We have proved that the Armenian population was relocated to these lands 200 years ago, how they were relocated and to what purpose, we have presented everything to the global community, with evidence and facts. We have proved that Nagorno-Karabakh is a historical, ancient land of Azerbaijan. At the same time, today I have visited the grave of the great leader Heydar Aliyev and bowed to his spirit. In my heart I said that am a happy man to have fulfilled my father's will. We have liberated Shusha! This is a great victory! The souls of our martyrs and the Great Leader are happy today! Congratulations, Azerbaijan! Congratulations Azerbaijanis of the world! Giving this great news to the people of Azerbaijan on this historic day is perhaps one of the happiest days of my life.”

The Armenian leadership’s desperation

On 27 September, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the Azerbaijani government of extended provocation. He said, "the recent aggressive statements of the Azerbaijani leadership, large-scale joint military exercises with Turkey, as well as the rejection of OSCE monitoring proposals" were an indication that it was preparing for war from the outset. On 28 September, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia issued an official statement about the war.

Armenia’s ambassador to Russia, Vardan Togyanyan, also said that Armenia would apply to Russia for new supplies of arms. On 30 September, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he wanted Armenia to officially recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent territory. On the same day, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the Turkish Air Force was conducting provocative flights along the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On 1 October, Arayik Harutyunyan said that Armenians should prepare for a protracted war. On the same day, claiming that Israel sold arms to Azerbaijan, Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel. On 3 October, the Foreign Ministry called on the international community to recognize the independence of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in order to "restore peace and security in the region."

On 8 October, the director of the National Security Service of Armenia was dismissed by order of the President of Armenia. Also on 8 October, the Armenian Ministry of Internal Affairs revoked the accreditation of the Novaya Gazeta magazine, saying that its correspondent, Ilya Azar, had entered Nagorno-Karabakh without accreditation and reported from Shusha and Lachin.

International Reactions to the Second Karabakh War

Turkey - "I call on the Armenian people to oppose their catastrophic government and those who play them as puppets, and take ownership of their future. I call on the whole world to stand by Azerbaijan in its struggle against occupation and oppression. Unfortunately, the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, which have ignored this issue for almost 30 years, show no sign of action to resolve it. Armenia has once again shown itself to be the main threat to peace and stability in the region. Today, as always, the Turkish nation is by fraternal Azerbaijani with all its means", said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech.

Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Numan Kurtulmuş, visited the Azerbaijani embassy in Ankara. There they met Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Turkey, Khazar Ibrahim. "The solution to this problem is very simple. Armenia must withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani lands", the minister said there.

Turkey’s Minister of Defence, Hulusi Akar, declared that his country was with Azerbaijan, stressing that Armenia's position was the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus.

The fraternal Republic of Turkey demonstrated unequivocally, in both word and deed, that it was with Azerbaijan in the Patriotic War.

The United Kingdom defended Azerbaijan's just position, as well as its territorial integrity, during the Second Karabakh War. A permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United Kingdom vetoed a draft statement on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict that was prepared on behalf of the chairman of the Security Council and was negative towards Azerbaijan; thus, it was not adopted.

US - US First Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan contacted Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to urge both sides to immediately suspend military operations, use existing direct contacts to avoid further escalation and refrain from rhetoric and actions that could escalate tension in the region.

Richard Hoagland, former US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, said: "According to international law, Armenia has invaded and occupied the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, another sovereign state." He noted that the main policy of the United States was to support and protect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.

Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stressed in speeches that "Armenia is an ally within the CSTO, but Nagorno-Karabakh does not belong to Armenia, so Russia has no obligation other than mediation concerning military operations in Karabakh." Russia’s Foreign Ministry called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for an immediate ceasefire. There were reports during the 44-day war of an increase in supplies of weapons and military equipment being transported from Russia to Armenia. According to those reports, weapons and military equipment were flown along a Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran route as Georgia forbade the transport of military cargo across its territory. However, Russia has repeatedly stated that the officially transported cargo consisted of construction materials for its military base in Armenia, and not of weapons and military equipment.

Italy - Italy defended Azerbaijan’s just position during the Second Karabakh War, as well as its territorial integrity. The municipalities of Sepino and San Giuliano del Sannio in the Italian province of Campobasso and the municipal commune of Corbetta in the Metroplitan City of Milan adopted documents condemning Armenia's policy of aggression, ethnic cleansing and genocide against Azerbaijan, and expressing solidarity with the Azerbaijani people.

France - France called on Yerevan and Baku to suspend military operations immediately and resume talks. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that, "France is extremely concerned about the conflict."

France supported occupying Armenia in the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. French President Emmanuel Macron's statement of 30 September on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was inconsistent with the country's mission as co-chair of the Minsk Group to mediate and resolve the conflict, and it called that mission into question. A draft resolution to recognise the ‘Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’, adopted by the Senate of the French Republic on 25 November 2020, drew justified protest from Azerbaijan.

Georgia - President Salome Zurabishvili called for reconciliation and expressed her support for the maintenance of regional peace and security. Mikhail Saakashvili, third president of Georgia, gave his opinion on his Facebook page, "My position is based on the principle of territorial integrity, ie. Nagorno-Karabakh is the sovereign territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and nothing will change that." Georgia forbade the transport of military cargo to Armenia across its territory and airspace during the 44-day war.

Serbia - Information was received confirming arms sales by Serbia to Armenia before and during the 44-day war. Azerbaijan issued protests about this to Serbia.

Greece - gave indirect support to Armenia during the 44-day war.

Germany - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Armenia and Azerbaijan should immediately renounce the use of force in favour of detailed talks and called on both sides of the conflict to suspend all military operations immediately. He also expressed concern about the shelling of villages and settlements.

Iran - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Iran was following the military clashes closely and that Tehran was ready to mediate a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Iranian officials denied reports of military shipments from Iran to Armenia during the war, and Iranian airspace and land routes were closed to prevent arms shipments to Armenia. There were also notable rallies in support of Azerbaijan's victories in various of Iran’s cities. The liberation of Shusha and Azerbaijan's taking control of its border with Iran were greeted with special joy in Tabriz, Ardebil and other cities. Internet footage of the Azerbaijani army attacking the occupiers, taken from the other side of the River Araz, on the Iranian border, was viewed widely.

Pakistan - Pakistani Foreign Ministry: "Armenia must suspend military operations to prevent any further escalation of the situation. We support Azerbaijan's position on Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in line with the resolutions passed unanimously by the UN Security Council." Fraternal Pakistan openly demonstrated its support for Azerbaijan during the 44-day war.

Kazakhstan - The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for all possible measures to stabilize the situation, renounce the use of force and begin negotiations, and offered to help resolve the conflict peacefully within the scope of international organizations.

Afghanistan - The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement about the tension in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. "The Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Afghanistan demands an end to the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh," the Ministry said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Shefik Jaferovich, Bosnian member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bakir Izetbegovic, leader of the Democratic Action Party, said they supported Azerbaijan, condemned Armenia and compared the situation to the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.

Israel - Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and former foreign and defence minister, reiterated in a statement to the local newspaper “Vesti” that Nagorno-Karabakh was Azerbaijani territory. "That is why no UN member state, including Armenia, has recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as a sovereign body. In terms of historical reality and international law, as well as the interests of the state of Israel, our position is absolutely unequivocal. We support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. We think that it is impossible to resolve the issue in the region without restoring that territorial integrity. In terms of history and international and national interests, Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is Israel’s official position," he said.

Hungary - A statement by Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade declared that Nagorno-Karabakh is located within the internationally-recognized borders of Azerbaijan.

The approaches of international organizations

European Union - The EU called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to cease hostilities, reduce tensions and adhere strictly to the ceasefire. Joseph Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also stressed the need to return to talks on a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict immediately, without preconditions and under the leadership of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. European institutions generally displayed double standards in dealing with the conflict, and have not really supported Azerbaijan's right to restore its territorial integrity, as enshrined in international law.

UN - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "both sides must immediately cease hostilities, reduce tensions and return to meaningful talks without delay." The organization said it would hold an urgent discussion on the situation in a closed-door meeting on 29 September.

OSCE - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called on both sides to suspend hostilities and return to talks.

Turkic Council - Baghdad Amreyev, Secretary General of the Turkic Council expressed deep concern over the military confrontation in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Turkic Council called for the protection of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and the inviolability of its internationally-recognized borders, and demanded the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

The Second Karabakh War and the Azerbaijani diaspora

On 6 October, rallies were held in support of the Azerbaijani state in the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Konya. On the same day, a rally in solidarity with Azerbaijan was held in Calgary, Canada.

On 8 October, leaders and members of the Eskisehir Azerbaijanis Association, the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (EHH) and other non-governmental organizations took part in an event at Eskisehirspor Stadium.

On 11 October, a large rally in support of the independent Azerbaijani state was held in Georgia's Marneuli region.

On 13 October, a rally was held in Milan, Italy to protest Armenia's aggressive policy, and in support of the independent Azerbaijani state.

The Azerbaijani diaspora in the Israeli city of Petah-Tikva held a rally protesting the occupying Armenian armed forces’ aggression and terrorism against Azerbaijan.

On 17 October, the Alliance of German Azerbaijanis organized a rally in Berlin with more than 10,000 Azerbaijanis protesting the death of civilians and minors, and the destruction of civilian facilities, following a further rocket attack by Armenian forces on Ganja.

On 18 October, on the occasion of Azerbaijan's Independence Day, the Azerbaijani flag was hoisted in front of the Chicago City Hall in Illinois to the sound of the Azerbaijani national anthem.

On the same day, a solidarity rally in support of Azerbaijan's struggle to restore its territorial integrity was held in Toronto, Canada.

On 21 October, on the initiative of the Azerbaijani community in Wroclaw, Poland, a permitted protest rally was held in front of the city’s municipal building.

On 26 October, protests took place in Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Salt Lake City in the USA.

On the same day, the Union of Azerbaijanis of Sweden organized a silent march from T-Central (Ahlens), Stockholm, in protest against the terrorist attacks committed by Armenia in Ganja.

On 27 October, Azerbaijanis living in London held a protest rally near the office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On 29 October, Azerbaijanis living in Houston, Texas, held a rally in front of Houston City Hall to inform the global community about the terrorist acts committed by the Armenian army in the Azerbaijani cities of Barda and Ganja, as well as other settlements.

On 30 October, Azerbaijanis living and studying in Italy, as well as representatives of the Turkish community, held a rally in Venice to raise awareness of the Armenian army's terrorist attacks on Ganja and Barda, and the killing of civilians, including women and children.

The Second Karabakh War and the Armenian diaspora

The Armenian diaspora was not as active as expected during the Second Karabakh War. Representatives of the diaspora living in different countries were, however, remembered for their aggressive actions.

On 11 October, the Armenian community of Los Angeles staged a protest of 100,000 people in front of the Turkish consulate, along with smaller protests in Washington, San Francisco, New York, Boston and elsewhere in the United States.

On 28 October, Armenians blocked the road in Isere, south-west France. The road to Lyon and Marseille was blocked. A confrontation broke out between those stuck in the traffic and the protesters. Not content with this, 300-400 Armenian protesters attacked and injured Turks on their way to work.

The effect on sport

Because of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, UEFA’s Executive Committee banned matches under the UEFA flag in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Representatives from both countries decided not to play home games indefinitely. UEFA monitored the situation, and the decision does not affect planning for next summer’s Euro 2020 finals in Baku.

The defeat of Armenian fascism and a new reality in the region

In previous wars, there was a tactic known as "scorched earth", by which a defensive force destroyed or looted all it could, setting fire to what it could not. This also prevented the local population, the owners of the land, from settling there. In 1977, Article 54 of Protocol No.1 of the Geneva Convention banned "scorched earth" as a tactic; it is now a war crime. 21st century Armenians are, however, using this tactic, regarded as primitive by the civilized world. As our President said, it is as if a savage tribe has passed through these places. Videos of our liberated cities and villages are heart-breaking. The savage enemy has not laid a stone upon stone, but has reduced everything to ruin. Trees have been cut down, forests cut down and burned, and land has been rendered useless. Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zengilan and Gubadli resemble deserts. Aghdam is a city of ghosts, even an atomic bomb did not destroy Hiroshima as completely. Armenia's war crimes do not end there. Two ballistic missiles were fired at Ganja, and Barda was bombarded with cluster munitions. The number of shells fired at Terter, Aghdam and Goranboy are uncounted. Hundreds of civilians - children, women, the elderly - fell victim to Armenian fascism; thousands of houses, apartment buildings and infrastructure were destroyed.

It is important that the whole world sees their fascist image. Let everyone see and know what a savage enemy we face. Let everyone know that we have destroyed not only an occupying army, but also Armenian fascism, a source of danger to humanity. On instructions from the president, members of the diplomatic corps in Azerbaijan are visiting the liberated regions, where they witness Armenia’s atrocities with their own eyes. The terrible destruction will be recorded, piece by piece, documented and submitted to the international court. Armenian fascists will surely not escape justice this time.

The enemy believed that following such destruction, Azerbaijanis would never return to those places. They were mistaken, the people of Azerbaijan have lived with a desire for 30 years to reunite with their homeland, and have breathed for Karabakh. During a visit to the liberated cities of Fuzuli and Aghdam, President Ilham Aliyev announced his plans for Karabakh’s future. He stated that all towns and villages will be restored according to a master plan. The state will provide the necessary assistance for citizens to return to their homeland. The construction of a new road from Fuzuli to Shusha and the restoration of historical roads leading to Sugovushan and Talysh villages have already begun. The Second Karabakh War has created a new reality in the region. Our beautiful Karabakh, convulsed by storms over the ages, looks to the future with great hope. After 27 years, the call to prayer is heard again in the Shusha and Aghdam mosques, and Karabakh Shikestesi is heard once more in the lands of Karabakh. Life is returning to those places after 30 years, a new cycle of life in those lands begins...

The successful end of the Patriotic War has changed the balance of forces in the region and created a new reality. We are not alone now. Fraternal Turkey is now with us at the political table. A Turkish soldier will also monitor the ceasefire in Karabakh. Messages continue to come from the highest levels in Ankara: “we will continue to stand by Azerbaijan”. This political and moral support strengthens us and prevents Armenia’s supporters from interfering. Addresses by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey as brothers, the fact that our star and crescent flags fly together, are sources of pride for our friends and an eye-opener for ill-wishers. Today, there is no status quo lasting 30 years. The issue of status is off the agenda. Instead, the implementation of plans to restore the destroyed cities and villages of Karabakh is already in process.

If we look at the many conflicts and wars taking place in the world, the last word lies with the stronger side. The 44-day Patriotic War of the Azerbaijani people for Karabakh is the latest example of this. Over the past 17 years, we have gained strength and crushed the enemy with an iron fist. Thirty years of occupation and injustice were ended in 44 days.