The termination of the USSR in 1991 was followed with several ethnic conflicts and war escalations within its former borderline. At the result, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has been one of the most controversial issues of the modern history of the South Caucasus that stemming from territorial claims of Armenia on historical Azerbaijani lands, broke out the hot war from 1991 to 1994. The war repercussion was daunting for Azerbaijan as the military operations were conducted with disproportionate capacities, and obvious support of the armed forces of the former USSR backed Armenians to violate Azerbaijani territorial integration by the occupation of 20% of its lands. Military aggressions did not only mean a territorial loss for Azerbaijan, but also devastated its cultural heritage, caused the refugee and IDP crisis, and traced a dreadful impact on the country’s economy.
Armenian ferocity reached at its peak in Khojaly, which was a significant settlement centre of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Therefore, the occupation of the city was carried out through several intended plans, such as, to facilitate further occupation and open the route to the Agdam, Shusha, Khankendi, Askeran and frighten Azerbaijanis not only militarily, but also civil population to threaten their intention to resist against Armenians. These facts prove that occupation of Khojaly and the mass killing of civilians was a deliberative act.
After sighing the ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in May 1994, there were various peace proposals for the settlement of the dispute. Since the involvement of the Minsk Group in the negotiation process, the parties to the conflict held great hopes in this negotiating institute, as it consists of not only the regional countries, such as Russia and Turkey, but also European and North American countries, which inspired the belief that such a broad representation would end the conflict peacefully. However, Armenian side never put forward a constructive approach for the resolution of the conflict peacefully and consistently violated the ceasefire agreement of 1994 while targeting civilians along the borderlines.
Armenian ferocities and arbitrariness reached at its peak in last two years, which was significantly blocking peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Thus, the more aggressive and intractable action of the Armenian government, like an intention to cement the acquisitions of those occupied territories beyond Nagorno-Karabakh permanently, repudiation of the “Basic Principles” that had been initiated by the OSCE Minsk Group and accepted both parties to the conflict, planning to move the administrative center of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from Khankendi to Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, illegal settlement of Armenians from different part of the world in the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan, as well as changing the toponyms and falsification of the historical monuments triggered the tension between the sides.
In addition to all, at a rally in Khankendi on August 5, 2019, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared, “Artsakh is Armenia, and that’s it”. This destroyed the possibility of serious further negotiation. Furthermore, Armenian Defence Minister David Tonoyan said in New York in March 2020 that the policy “new war for new territories” replaced that of “territory for peace”, still further undermining any peaceful resolution. However, the attack to Tovuz region in the summer of 2020 that is situated out of the conflicting zone and violating internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan since that time became the last straw to break the status-quo in the region. Targeting oil and gas export pipelines passing through Tovuz district was threatening European energy security. In this regard, a fragile ceasefire was established, although frequently broken in subsequent months by Armenia. That is why, as a countermeasure of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, on September 27, with the counter-offensive operation along the entire front Azerbaijani Army started the liberation of the territories, which had been occupied by Armenia in the wake of the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s. The war that lasted 44 days and labeled as ‘the Patriotic War’, depicted the strength of the Glorious Azerbaijani Army and ended with the decisive victory of Azerbaijan. By December 1, Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity at the result of the trilateral ceasefire treaty between Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia that signed on November 10, 2020, right after the liberation of the Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, by the Glorious Azerbaijani Army. This 44 days war brought an end to the long-lasting occupation of Khojaly and all occupied territories of Azerbaijan, which will lead to the big return of Khojaly residents and IDPs to their homes. As President Ilham Aliyev mentioned several times, over 25.000 Khojaly residents are thrilled to return and commence the reconstruction and revival of life in Khojaly. Thus, with the hope for the restoration of a new life after the cold winter, Khojaly residents believe that the almond tree will blossom again in KHOJALY.