|Azerbaijan - International Disputes||
Both sides have generally observed the Russian-mediated cease-fire. Armenia supports ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the long-standing, separatist conflict against the Azerbaijani Government. Negotiations have been long but inconclusive.
Armenians seem to be willing to return to Azerbaijan most territories they
currently occupy around, south and east of Nagorno-Karabakh, including
the towns of Fizuli, Agdam and Jebrail, but they insist in keeping a corridor
around Lechin connecting the province to mainland Armenia. The Armenians
also want to keep Kelbajar, which has gold mines nearby. It has been speculated
that in compensation the Armenians may offer Azerbaijan a narrow corridor
connecting Azerbaijan to Nakichevan, along the Iranian border.
Most areas in dispute are very low profile,
except a stretch of border in Agstafa rayon.
The David Gareja monastery complex is located on the half-desert
slopes of Mount Gareja. Part of the border passes through the top of the
813-meter-high Udabno / Keshishdag ridge, which harbors cave monasteries
on its top and also on the northern (Georgian-controlled) and southern
(Azerbaijani-controlled) slopes. Part of the complex is also located
on the Azeri side of the border, in Agstafa rayon. The complex, which contains
a rich collection of cave frescoes, has been a site for conflict as well
as for contemplation, ever since construction began in the 6th century.
Azerbaijan claims th monastery of Bertubani, which features frescoes of
the legendary 12th-13th century Georgian Queen Tamara and her son, Giorgi
IV is on its territory. To hold on to the churches on Georgian territory,
Tbilisi has proposed giving Azerbaijan an as yet publicly unspecified section
of Georgian land near the Azerbaijani border. Azerbaijani officials, however,
say that they are unwilling to consider the exchange. The monastery
complex, which has withstood attacks by Tamerlane and Shah Abbas alike,
holds strategic significance for both Azerbaijan and Georgia. From the
Udabno ridge, both Azerbaijani and Georgian territory can be easily monitored.
Since December 1998 Russia and Iran are no longer insisting on the inviolability of the sea’s former status based on the 1921 and 1940 Soviet-Iranian agreements (meaning indivisibility of the sea, including its seabed, and the impossibility of foreign firms acting without the consent of all the countries of the region).
The question now is what should be divided and how. Kazakstan and Russia are in favour of dividing the Caspian seabed alone, while the sea’s waters remain in common use. On the contrary, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are in favour of dividing both the sea’s bed and its waters. Iran takes a special position: while advocating joint use of the seabed and the water, Tehran supports full division of the Caspian if the other littoral states agree to take this step.
Azerbaijan remains locked in disputes with Turkmenistan and Iran over competing claims to overlapping fields. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have traded harsh words over the Kyapaz-Serdar, Khazar, and Osman fields, while Azerbaijan has objected to Iran's decision to award Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo a license to conduct seismic surveys in a region that Azerbaijan considers to fall in its territory. In July 2001, tensions flared in the South Caspian when a British Petroleum (BP) ship, licensed to explore Azerbaijan's Araz, Alov, and Sharg concession, was ordered to leave the area by an Iranian gunboat, since Iran considers the area, which it calls Alborz, to be a part of the Iranian sector of the sea.
On the terrain the Caspian problem has already caused several incidents, mostly involving on one side Iranian Navy and Air Force and on the other ships carrying out marine survey or other vessels linked to oil and gas exploitation. The main point of attrition has been Azerbaijan's Araz, Alov, and Sharg concession, which Iran calls Alborz and considers to be a part of the Iranian sector of the sea. The stakes are high in this 'great game' for power and influence, oil and gas, and above all money, billions of dollars of it, beneath the Caspian, this is why Russia is building up a naval force for the inland sea.
- Chechnya / Russia conflict, also affecting Ingushetia and Dagestan
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|A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan||